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Brief Bioinform. 2018 Nov 27;19(6):1382-1399. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbx065.

Mathematical modeling and computational prediction of cancer drug resistance.

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Zhong-shan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University.
School of Information Science and Engineering, Lanzhou University.


Diverse forms of resistance to anticancer drugs can lead to the failure of chemotherapy. Drug resistance is one of the most intractable issues for successfully treating cancer in current clinical practice. Effective clinical approaches that could counter drug resistance by restoring the sensitivity of tumors to the targeted agents are urgently needed. As numerous experimental results on resistance mechanisms have been obtained and a mass of high-throughput data has been accumulated, mathematical modeling and computational predictions using systematic and quantitative approaches have become increasingly important, as they can potentially provide deeper insights into resistance mechanisms, generate novel hypotheses or suggest promising treatment strategies for future testing. In this review, we first briefly summarize the current progress of experimentally revealed resistance mechanisms of targeted therapy, including genetic mechanisms, epigenetic mechanisms, posttranslational mechanisms, cellular mechanisms, microenvironmental mechanisms and pharmacokinetic mechanisms. Subsequently, we list several currently available databases and Web-based tools related to drug sensitivity and resistance. Then, we focus primarily on introducing some state-of-the-art computational methods used in drug resistance studies, including mechanism-based mathematical modeling approaches (e.g. molecular dynamics simulation, kinetic model of molecular networks, ordinary differential equation model of cellular dynamics, stochastic model, partial differential equation model, agent-based model, pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic model, etc.) and data-driven prediction methods (e.g. omics data-based conventional screening approach for node biomarkers, static network approach for edge biomarkers and module biomarkers, dynamic network approach for dynamic network biomarkers and dynamic module network biomarkers, etc.). Finally, we discuss several further questions and future directions for the use of computational methods for studying drug resistance, including inferring drug-induced signaling networks, multiscale modeling, drug combinations and precision medicine.


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