Mapping the Tumor Vasculome


The Problem

Cancer is currently the second-largest cause of death worldwide. In 2019, breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed new cancer in women, with over 250,000 new cases. While there have been advances in personalized breast cancer treatment, a major therapeutic hurdle is intra-tumor heterogeneity. Clinical genotyping has shown that genetically distinct subpopulations of cancer cells exist within and contribute to the formation of unique tumor microenvironments (TME). The TME is characterized by abnormal vasculature that plays a crucial role in tumor heterogeneity and resistance to cancer therapies, impacting prognosis and treatment. Therefore, scientists are exploring the biology underlying intra-tumor heterogeneity using animal and computational models.

The Solution

Imaging advances have made it possible to capture complementary 3D data at multiple spatial scales (multiscale imaging) and integrate them into mathematical models of the TME. The Pathak Lab at Johns Hopkins University recently reported image-based modeling of the TME in eight mouse-based human breast cancer models (xenografts). In this work, variables describing the morphology of the tumor vasculature such as vessel diameter, distance to the nearest vessel, and vascular surface area density were computed. Hemodynamic parameters such as the blood flow rate and intravascular oxygenation were simulated. These morphologic and physiologic data, collectively referred to as the tumor’s ‘vasculome,’ provide a novel representation of the TME. However, these vasculomes are currently only available as static images and original datasets. Therefore, this project seeks to develop an interactive platform to communicate the heterogeneity of the tumor vasculomes. Cancer researchers and students will be able to interact with the vasculomes in 3D space to better understand tumor heterogeneity at the microvascular level, as well as learn about the fundamentals of each hemodynamic parameter.

Watch a video of Laura explaining the project >>


These illustrations and panels were created to explain fundamental concepts of the vasculome. 

Copyright 2021 Pathak Lab, Laura Ekl. All rights reserved. 

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