In vitro and in silico multidimensional modeling of oncolytic tumor virotherapy dynamics

David R. Berg, Chetan P. Offord, Iris Kemler, Matthew K. Ennis, Lawrence Chang, George Paulik, Zeljko Bajzer, Claudia Neuhauser, David Dingli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Tumor therapy with replication competent viruses is an exciting approach to cancer eradication where viruses are engineered to specifically infect, replicate, spread and kill tumor cells. The outcome of tumor virotherapy is complex due to the variable interactions between the cancer cell and virus populations as well as the immune response. Oncolytic viruses are highly efficient in killing tumor cells in vitro, especially in a 2D monolayer of tumor cells, their efficiency is significantly lower in a 3D environment, both in vitro and in vivo. This indicates that the spatial dimension may have a major influence on the dynamics of virus spread. We study the dynamic behavior of a spatially explicit computational model of tumor and virus interactions using a combination of in vitro 2D and 3D experimental studies to inform the models. We determine the number of nearest neighbor tumor cells in 2D (median = 6) and 3D tumor spheroids (median = 16) and how this influences virus spread and the outcome of therapy. The parameter range leading to tumor eradication is small and even harder to achieve in 3D. The lower efficiency in 3D exists despite the presence of many more adjacent cells in the 3D environment that results in a shorter time to reach equilibrium. The mean field mathematical models generally used to describe tumor virotherapy appear to provide an overoptimistic view of the outcomes of therapy. Three dimensional space provides a significant barrier to efficient and complete virus spread within tumors and needs to be explicitly taken into account for virus optimization to achieve the desired outcome of therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006773
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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