Bridging scales: A hybrid model to simulate vascular tumor growth and treatment response

Tobias Duswald, Ernesto A.B.F. Lima, J. Tinsley Oden, Barbara Wohlmuth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer is a disease driven by random DNA mutations and the interaction of many complex phenomena. To improve the understanding and ultimately find more effective treatments, researchers leverage computer simulations mimicking the tumor growth in silico. The challenge here is to account for the many phenomena influencing the disease progression and treatment protocols. This work introduces a computational model to simulate vascular tumor growth and the response to drug treatments in 3D. It consists of two agent-based models for the tumor cells and the vasculature. Moreover, partial differential equations govern the diffusive dynamics of the nutrients, the vascular endothelial growth factor, and two cancer drugs. The model focuses explicitly on breast cancer cells over-expressing HER2 receptors and a treatment combining standard chemotherapy (Doxorubicin) and monoclonal antibodies with anti-angiogenic properties (Trastuzumab). However, large parts of the model generalize to other scenarios. We show that the model qualitatively captures the effects of the combination therapy by comparing our simulation results with previously published pre-clinical data. Furthermore, we demonstrate the scalability of the model and the associated C++ code by simulating a vascular tumor occupying a volume of 400 mm3 using a total of 92.4 million agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116566
JournalComputer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2024


  • 3D tumor simulation
  • Agent-based model
  • Angiogenesis
  • Combination therapy
  • Hybrid model
  • Vascular tumor growth model


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