By: Hailey V.
School: Portola High
Science Teacher: Erica Borquez
In the realm of medical science, the landscape of cancer therapy has been undergoing a remarkable transformation over the past decade. The emergence of targeted therapies has opened new avenues to interrupt the intricate molecular processes that fuel the growth of cancer cells. With each patient’s cancer being a unique puzzle, it has become increasingly evident that personalized approaches are key to success. This has led to the evolution of drug delivery systems, striving to minimize the toxicities associated with traditional chemotherapy. Among the latest innovations, nanoparticles have taken center stage, serving as vehicles to ferry proteins, mRNA for vaccines, and medications to the very heart of the cancerous sites. Unlike conventional chemotherapy, nanoparticle-based therapies demand precise timing and dosing strategies to unlock their full potential. In the following discourse, Hailey harnesses computational methods to decode the intricate dance between nanoparticles and cancer cells.
Cancer treatment, while vital, often carries a hefty toll on the patient’s body, triggering collateral damage in the process. The visionary project by Hailey aims to revolutionize this landscape by harnessing nanotechnology to orchestrate a precisely choreographed attack on cancer cells. By ingeniously utilizing nanoparticles as delivery vessels, the project seeks to unleash drug therapies directly at the cancer site, sparing healthy cells from unnecessary harm.
At the heart of this endeavor lies the “anti-cancer biorobot,” a digital simulation powered by PhysiCell, a cutting-edge program that mimics cellular movements and biomechanical interactions with astounding fidelity. The scientific journey embarked by Hailey hinged upon the manipulation of three pivotal variables: tumor size, cargo release oxygen (O2) threshold, and nanoparticle-to-worker cell ratio. By employing the power of C++ code, the model was finessed and propelled through a series of simulations, each uniquely tuned to explore the influence of the chosen variables. The experimentation encompassed seven trials for tumor sizes spanning from 200 to 500 μm, seven trials to scrutinize O2 release thresholds between 10 to 20 mmHg, and four trials exploring the gamut of nanoparticle enrichment from 10 to 40%. Moreover, the project ingeniously intertwined tumor size and O2 release dynamics to paint a more comprehensive picture of the intricate dance between nanoparticles and cancer cells. The simulations yielded essential outputs, which Hailey meticulously dissected to calculate tumor death rates at 25% and 50%.
As the digital curtain lifted on the results, fascinating correlations emerged. The trajectory of tumor death revealed an intricate connection to the tumor’s size: larger tumors required significantly more time before achieving 50% death, with a 500 μm tumor trailing behind by a staggering 800 hours when compared to a 200 μm counterpart. The balletic interplay of cargo release O2 thresholds showcased a dynamic equilibrium point at 15 mmHg, signifying that values both above and below necessitated more prolonged periods to instigate substantial cell death. The nanoparticle ballet demonstrated its own complexity, with the optimum balance of 30% nanoparticles and 60% cargo cell enrichment orchestrating a 12-hour reduction in achieving 50% cell death when juxtaposed with a 10% nanoparticle environment.
Hailey’s pioneering endeavor has unveiled a symphony of insights that have far-reaching implications for nanoparticle-based cancer therapies. The crescendo of findings reveals that the crescendo of findings reveals that tumor size wields a pivotal influence, with larger tumors demanding a more substantial cellular infiltration and a heightened drug availability. The intricate ballet of cargo release thresholds, on the other hand, guides drug delivery with exquisite precision, mapping a route deeply intertwined with the layers of oxygen. The harmony between size and threshold uncovers the paramount importance of oxygen specificity in larger tumors. The nanoparticle ensemble, while potent, dances delicately on the edge of concentration, avoiding the pitfalls of clustering that might hinder their independent migration.