Universal scaling laws rule explosive growth in human cancers.

Pérez-García, Víctor M; Calvo, Gabriel F; Bosque, Jesús J; León-Triana, Odelaisy; Jiménez, Juan; Perez-Beteta, Julián; Belmonte-Beitia, Juan; Valiente, Manuel; Zhu, Lucía; García-Gómez, Pedro; Sánchez-Gómez, Pilar; Hernández-San Miguel, Esther; Hortigüela, Rafael; Azimzade, Youness; Molina-García, David; Martinez, Álvaro; Rojas, Ángel Acosta; de Mendivil, Ana Ortiz; Vallette, Francois; Schucht, Philippe; ... (2020). Universal scaling laws rule explosive growth in human cancers. Nature physics, 16(12), pp. 1232-1237. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41567-020-0978-6

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Most physical and other natural systems are complex entities composed of a large number of interacting individual elements. It is a surprising fact that they often obey the so-called scaling laws relating an observable quantity with a measure of the size of the system. Here we describe the discovery of universal superlinear metabolic scaling laws in human cancers. This dependence underpins increasing tumour aggressiveness, due to evolutionary dynamics, which leads to an explosive growth as the disease progresses. We validated this dynamic using longitudinal volumetric data of different histologies from large cohorts of cancer patients. To explain our observations we put forward increasingly-complex biologically-inspired mathematical models that captured the key processes governing tumor growth. Our models predicted that the emergence of superlinear allometric scaling laws is an inherently three-dimensional phenomenon. Moreover, the scaling laws thereby identified allowed us to define a set of metabolic metrics with prognostic value, thus providing added clinical utility to the base findings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurosurgery

UniBE Contributor:

Schucht, Philippe, Murek, Michael Konrad


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Nature Publishing Group




Nicole Söll

Date Deposited:

21 Jan 2021 16:21

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:44

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:




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