Mathematical Modeling in Pharmaceutical Development

Microtubules are a key constituent of the cell's structural framework and are responsible for a diverse range of functions within the cell. They are cylindrical polymers, 25 nm in diameter and can grow to be several hundred micrometers in length. Tubulin, the protein which is the main component of microtubules, self-assembles to form the walls of the cylinder in a highly-ordered, helical lattice arrangement. Functionally, microtubules fill a wide variety of roles within the cell. The function often considered most important is the role played in cell division. This requires repeated assembly and disassembly phases in microtubule dynamics. Not only is this important in healthy cells but is required for the proliferation of cancer and tumor growth. By interfering with this process one can prevent the cell from dividing, thereby halting the growth of a tumor. This makes tubulin and microtubules one of the most important chemotherapeutic targets. In collaboration with Dr. Andriy Kovalenko of the National Research Council’s National Institute for Nanotechnology, the intern research team applied the integral equation theory of molecular liquids to the self-assembly and stability of microtubles to gain insights to the role of tubulin in the human body. These insights will help create and test the next generation of anti-cancer drugs, those that target cancer cells specifically.

Tyler Luchko
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Jack Tuszynski