Modelling collective cell movement, a talk by Professor Philip K Maini FRS (University of Oxford) The University of Glasgow Sneddon Lecture
Collective cell movement is ubiquitous in biology, occurring both in normal processes (for example, development, wound healing) and in disease (for example, cancer). In most of these examples, how cells coordinate their movement is still not well understood. We will consider two examples: (i) angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels are formed in response to, for example, wounding or tumour growth. Typically, this has been modelled phenomenologically using the well-known snail-trail framework, leading to a coupled system of nonlinear partial differential equations for two key endothelial cell populations (tips and sprouts). Here, we revisit this model and show that a more formal derivation of the PDE model, from a discrete master equation framework, leads to a novel coupled system of PDEs to those studied in the literature; (ii) neural crest cell invasion is a very important early developmental process and also shares many common features with melanoma cell invasion. Here, we use a combined experimental and mathematical modelling study to shed light on a number of questions regarding the basic principles of this phenomenon.