Research Fellows Directory
Professor Philip Maini
University of Oxford
Biological function arises as the result of many processes interacting in a very complex way, the understanding of which is beyond the reach of verbal reasoning. We therefore need to use mathematical and computational approaches to investigate such systems. In the past year we have primarily been focussing on investigating the control of cancer growth by altering the micro-environment around the tumour. In particular, we have been investigating experimental findings in mice which show that increasing the local pH by oral administration of bicarbonate in mice can reduce cancer spread. Using mathematical models, we have proposed a hypothesis for why this treatment affects the growth and invasion of secondary tumours but appears to have no effect on primaries. We have shown that similar treatment in humans would not produce such impressive results due to the human's increased buffering capacity. We have therefore used our mathematical models to determine which combination therapies would be most effective and these are presently being tested on mice.
A complementary approach to the above analysis of mechanism is to look for correlations in data as a way to hypothesize which traits may be linked to function/dysfunction. We have developed an improved algorithm for doing this and are presently applying it to data sets on malaria and brain cancer.