Mathematical Modelling of the Chemotherapeutic Drug Paclitaxel

Lead Research Organisation: University of Dundee
Department Name: Mathematics


Paclitaxel (taxol) is front line chemotherapeutic that inhibits cell proliferation by inhibiting mitosis. Despite intense efforts by the research community to identify chemically similar compounds with fewer harmful side effects, progress has thus far been limited.

Adrian Saurin's (co-supervisor, Ninewells) lab has performed series of experiments measuring the uptake and transport of the Paclitaxel (taxol) in a variety of different experimental situations (e.g. cell lines and tumour spheroids). Isaac's project is focussed on using the experimental data to develop and validate mathematical models of transport and uptake of Paclitaxel in different situations. The model will then be adapted so as to describe drug uptake in tumour spheroids and, ultimately, in in vivo contexts.

Ultimately, the aim of the project is to better understand the mechanisms of taxol transport and uptake and to use this information to develop novel strategies for improving taxol treatment protocols.

(1) Use mathematical model to better understand taxol uptake and transport.
(2) Use mathematical models to explain puzzling aspects of the experimental data in a single theoretical framework.
(3) Identify model parameters using bespoke optimisation algorithms.
(5) Use mathematical models to explore different modes of therapy delivery.

(1) Derive a novel system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations that describe relevant biological processes.
(2) Derive a novel system of nonlinear reaction diffusion equations that describe spatial transport of taxol in different experimental contexts.
(3) Estimate model parameters using bespoke algorithms that minimising error between experimental data and model solutions.
(4) Use the fitted models to make testable experimental predictions that will lead to novel experiments and treatment strategies.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509632/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2009795 Studentship EP/N509632/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2021 Isaac Proudfoot
Description A mathematical model that quantifies the uptake and retention of the drug paclitaxel by cells and tissue. This model has been fitted to experimental data provided by collaborators at Ninewells Hospital.
Exploitation Route Optimising current treatment protocols with the drug and adapting the model to suit different tumour environments.
Sectors Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Title Mathematical model for paclitaxel in monolayer cultures 
Description A mathematical model that describes the rate of transport of paclitaxel across the cell membrane and its various binding affinities. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - in vitro 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Some hypotheses regarding how paclitaxel is taken up and retained by tissue have been tested and supported by this tool. 
Description Quantitative Systems Pharmacology Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A 2 day workshop discussing the various roles for mechanistic and AI driven models in solving problems in pharmacology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019