Team Number: 004
School Name: Albuquerque Academy
Area of Science: Pathology
Project Title: Tracking Cancer Development and Movement
The purpose of our project is to model the movement and development of melanoma skin cancer. This is the deadliest of the three different types of skin cancers. It has its beginnings in melanocytes, the skin cells that produce the dark, protective pigment called melanin. It is melanin that makes the skin tan, acting as partial protection against sun. Melanoma causes the melanocytes to produce too much pigment, which causes a blemish on the skin.
After a certain period of time in which the cancer cells have developed in a local region, they tend to spread and disperse among different organs. Initially, melanoma usually spreads to the lymph nodes, which are part of the lymphatic system, a series of vessels throughout the body much like blood vessels that are responsible for cleaning the body's tissues.
This project involves the tracking of individual cells, something that could easily become messy and overly complicated. Therefore, an array would naturally be the most useful way to track the cells and their variables for this problem. Each “cell” of the array will have different attributes so we would only have to create a three dimensional array instead of a higher-dimensional array.
The infected cells would start in a certain region in the space defined by the array. From there, it would propagate to an adjacent cell if the conditions were adequate. These conditions would be defined by our research. From here, the same thing would happen again.
The output would be through a GUI , which may be updated at specific intervals so precious processing power is not used up in displaying an output that is virtually the same , where the few changes from the previous are almost irrelevant. As the input is in three-dimensional space, it would require a clever method to display the output in a visual way that is understandable and easy to browse through. Only then would the results provide the understanding of the solution necessary.
Progress to Date:
We have been concentrating mainly on the research of our project , as it is crucial for the generation of any results. Our main focus is on melanoma mole growth , as that constitutes a core part of the program. We continue to research the topic.
We have gotten a project mentor on board, Gene Wong M.D., who is a radiologist at UNM Hospital and familiar with different types of skin cancers. Dr. Wong will help us analyze our results, and at the same time, obtain and interpret additional information. In dealing with such a complex topic, his mentorship will assist us greatly.
We are currently conjuring up ideas on how to display the output and have many creative approaches. We are also determining the feasibility of the existing ideas.
We expect our results will show that melanoma skin cancer does not occur too often, as it is the least common of the three types of skin cancers. We expect there to be a sort of unpredictability in the different runs of the program because of the nature of biological diseases and functions. We also expect our program to show how destructive this type of skin cancer is because melanoma attacks the lymph nodes first, a vital part of the lymphatic system, making it very deadly.
- American Academy of Dermatology
-American Cancer Society
- Loyola University Medical Education Network: Skin Cancer and Benign Tumor Image Atlas
-Microsoft Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005 DVD
-National Cancer Institute: MMHCC The Mouse Models of Human Cancers Consortium
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Cancer Prevention and Control
-The Skin Cancer Foundation
-The Skin Cancer Resources Dictionary
-Web MD Health