A multiscale road map of cancer spheroids-incorporating experimental and mathematical modelling to understand cancer progression

Daniela Loessner, J. Paige Little, Graeme J. Pettet, Dietmar W. Hutmacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Computational models represent a highly suitable framework, not only for testing biological hypotheses and generating new ones but also for optimising experimental strategies. As one surveys the literature devoted to cancer modelling, it is obvious that immense progress has been made in applying simulation techniques to the study of cancer biology, although the full impact has yet to be realised. For example, there are excellent models to describe cancer incidence rates or factors for early disease detection, but these predictions are unable to explain the functional and molecular changes that are associated with tumour progression. In addition, it is crucial that interactions between mechanical effects, and intracellular and intercellular signalling are incorporated in order to understand cancer growth, its interaction with the extracellular microenvironment and invasion of secondary sites. There is a compelling need to tailor new, physiologically relevant in silico models that are specialised for particular types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer owing to its unique route of metastasis, which are capable of investigating anti-cancer therapies, and generating both qualitative and quantitative predictions. This Commentary will focus on how computational simulation approaches can advance our understanding of ovarian cancer progression and treatment, in particular, with the help of multicellular cancer spheroids, and thus, can inform biological hypothesis and experimental design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2761-2771
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D experiments
  • Mathematical predictions
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Spheroids

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