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Drug Resist Updat. 2012 Feb-Apr;15(1-2):90-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drup.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Mar 3.

The dynamics of drug resistance: a mathematical perspective.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20742, USA.


Resistance to chemotherapy is a key impediment to successful cancer treatment that has been intensively studied for the last three decades. Several central mechanisms have been identified as contributing to the resistance. In the case of multidrug resistance (MDR), the cell becomes resistant to a variety of structurally and mechanistically unrelated drugs in addition to the drug initially administered. Mathematical models of drug resistance have dealt with many of the known aspects of this field, such as pharmacologic sanctuary and location/diffusion resistance, intrinsic resistance, induced resistance and acquired resistance. In addition, there are mathematical models that take into account the kinetic/phase resistance, and models that investigate intracellular mechanisms based on specific biological functions (such as ABC transporters, apoptosis and repair mechanisms). This review covers aspects of MDR that have been mathematically studied, and explains how, from a methodological perspective, mathematics can be used to study drug resistance. We discuss quantitative approaches of mathematical analysis, and demonstrate how mathematics can be used in combination with other experimental and clinical tools. We emphasize the potential benefits of integrating analytical and mathematical methods into future clinical and experimental studies of drug resistance.

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