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Colorful 3D cancer models show how tumors grow

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 26, 2015
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Cancer is a terrible thing, but a beautiful representation of it might just help health care experts treat the disease more effectively. An international team of researchers has developed a 3D tumor simulation that shows how cancerous cells grow and mutate unevenly over time. Each color you see in a given model represents a different mutation -- the more successful one of these aberrations is at migrating and reproducing, the more its color dominates the tumor. The simulation is also much better than previous models at representing the overall shapes of tumors, illustrating the bulges that come as the cancer rapidly outgrows any nearby healthy cells.

This isn't a perfect replication of a tumor. It tends to omit or simplify a few factors, so you couldn't use the code to predict how illnesses develop in a real body. However, the jump in accuracy may still be extremely helpful. Scientists could gauge the effectiveness of treatments before going ahead with clinical trials, or study the resistances that lead to a tumor bouncing back following a remission. In essence, the medical world should spend more time refining its cancer-fighting techniques and less time double-checking that these techniques work.

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