The collaboration of Prof. Prasad Dhurjati, a chemical engineer who has done extensive computer modeling of biological and engineering systems, and Prof. Deni Galileo, a neurobiologist whose expertise is in cell motion and behavior in the brain, has produced a new and freely available computer program that predicts cancer cell motion and spread with high accuracy.
"If you could stop the cells from moving beyond that initial tumor, the surgeon could go in a second time and take the second tumor out.
Galileo and his research team have been studying what triggers the rapid spread of these cells - aiming to disrupt their aggressive advance - and have demonstrated the significant role of a cell membrane protein called L1CAM (L1 cell adhesion molecule).
He has worked with specialists in osteoporosis and the human gut microbiome - that stew of microbes that live in the bellies of humans and animals - and has helped researchers simulate biological behavior to see predicted responses to various stimuli.
"Biological details put me to sleep," Dhurjati said with a grin.
And that opens new opportunities for researchers.