Game theory in the death galaxy: Interaction of cancer and stromal cells in tumour microenvironment

Amy Wu, David Liao, Thea D. Tlsty, James C. Sturm, Robert H. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Preventing relapse is the major challenge to effective therapy in cancer. Within the tumour, stromal (ST) cells play an important role in cancer progression and the emergence of drug resistance. During cancer treatment, the fitness of cancer cells can be enhanced by ST cells because theirmolecular signalling interaction delays the drug-induced apoptosis of cancer cells. On the other hand, competition among cancer and ST cells for space or resources should not be ignored. We explore the population dynamics of multiple myeloma (MM) versus bone marrow ST cells by using an experimental microecology that we call the death galaxy, with a stable drug gradient and connected microhabitats. Evolutionary gametheory is a quantitativeway to capture the frequency-dependent nature of interactive populations. Therefore, we use evolutionary game theory to model the populations in the death galaxy with the gradients of pay-offs and successfullypredict the future densities ofMMandST cells. Wediscuss the possible clinical use of such analysis for predicting cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20140028
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 6 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy resistance
  • Game theory
  • Population dynamics
  • Spatial heterogeneity
  • Stroma


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