Deep reinforcement learning identifies personalized intermittent androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer

Yitao Lu, Qian Chu, Zhen Li, Mengdi Wang, Robert Gatenby, Qingpeng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The evolution of drug resistance leads to treatment failure and tumor progression. Intermittent androgen deprivation therapy (IADT) helps responsive cancer cells compete with resistant cancer cells in intratumoral competition. However, conventional IADT is population-based, ignoring the heterogeneity of patients and cancer. Additionally, existing IADT relies on pre-determined thresholds of prostate-specific antigen to pause and resume treatment, which is not optimized for individual patients. To address these challenges, we framed a data-driven method in two steps. First, we developed a time-varied, mixed-effect and generative Lotka–Volterra (tM-GLV) model to account for the heterogeneity of the evolution mechanism and the pharmacokinetics of two ADT drugs Cyproterone acetate and Leuprolide acetate for individual patients. Then, we proposed a reinforcement-learning-enabled individualized IADT framework, namely, I2ADT, to learn the patient-specific tumor dynamics and derive the optimal drug administration policy. Experiments with clinical trial data demonstrated that the proposed I2ADT can significantly prolong the time to progression of prostate cancer patients with reduced cumulative drug dosage. We further validated the efficacy of the proposed methods with a recent pilot clinical trial data. Moreover, the adaptability of I2ADT makes it a promising tool for other cancers with the availability of clinical data, where treatment regimens might need to be individualized based on patient characteristics and disease dynamics. Our research elucidates the application of deep reinforcement learning to identify personalized adaptive cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbbae071
JournalBriefings in Bioinformatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology


  • Adaptive therapy
  • Personalized medicine
  • Prostate cancer
  • Reinforcement learning


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