Physics Colloquium - Friday, February 17th, 2006, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Leonard M. Sander
University of Michigan

Patterns and Growth in Highly Malignant Brain Tumors

Glioblastoma Multiforme is a form of highly malignant brain tumor. It is well known that one of the reasons that GBM is resistant to treatment is that it is highly invasive due to the large motility of the tumor cells. Invading cells seem to cluster to form secondary tumors, rendering the resection of the primary tumor essentially futile. In this talk I will present two ways in which we are applying the methods of statistical physics to tackle this biomedical problem:

1. We study the dynamics of invasion as a problem in pattern formation. We show that instabilities in growth patterns may be a clue to subtle differences in proliferation rates for invasive glioma cells.

2. We study the effects of cell-cell adhesion with a view to understanding clustering of invading cells. We show, theoretically and experimentally, that glioma cells show phenomena which are entirely analogous to phase separation and Ostwald ripening.