One of the greatest challenges in cancer medicine is understanding and predicting the trajectory of individual cancers. This leads to both over and under-treatment of cancer. We apply evolutionary principles to this question by studying the forces that shape cancer evolution and use this knowledge to improve patient outcomes.
As a multi-disciplinary group of cancer geneticists, computational biologists and clinician scientists we are using methods from evolutionary biology to understand the variable natural history of individual cancers, and most critically the emergence of metastases and drug resistance.
We evaluate and model the main forces that shape cancer evolution: mutations, natural selection and therapy. Mutations are genetic changes in the cancer which fuel evolution. Selection is a process by which some mutations will be favoured because they improve the survival of the cancer population they occur in, so they are perpetuated.