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  1. We extend our established agent-based multiscale computational model of infection of lung tissue by SARS-CoV-2 to include pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic models of remdesivir. We model remdesivir treatment for COVID-19; however, our methods are general to other viral infections and antiviral therapies. We investigate the effects of drug potency, drug dosing frequency, treatment initiation delay, antiviral half-life, and variability in cellular uptake and metabolism of remdesivir and its active metabolite on treatment outcomes in a simulated patch of infected epithelial tissue. Non-spatial deterministic population models which treat all cells of a given class as identical can clarify how treatment dosage and timing influence treatment efficacy. However, they do not reveal how cell-to-cell variability affects treatment outcomes. Our simulations suggest that for a given treatment regime, including cell-to-cell variation in drug uptake, permeability and metabolism increase the likelihood of uncontrolled infection as the cells with the lowest internal levels of antiviral act as super-spreaders within the tissue. The model predicts substantial variability in infection outcomes between similar tissue patches for different treatment options. In models with cellular metabolic variability, antiviral doses have to be increased significantly (>50% depending on simulation parameters) to achieve the same treatment results as with the homogeneous cellularmore »metabolism.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Kosakovsky Pond, Sergei L. (Ed.)
    Respiratory viruses present major public health challenges, as evidenced by the 1918 Spanish Flu, the 1957 H2N2, 1968 H3N2, and 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemics, and the ongoing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Severe RNA virus respiratory infections often correlate with high viral load and excessive inflammation. Understanding the dynamics of the innate immune response and its manifestations at the cell and tissue levels is vital to understanding the mechanisms of immunopathology and to developing strain-independent treatments. Here, we present a novel spatialized multicellular computational model of RNA virus infection and the type-I interferon-mediated antiviral response that it induces within lung epithelial cells. The model is built using the CompuCell3D multicellular simulation environment and is parameterized using data from influenza virus-infected cell cultures. Consistent with experimental observations, it exhibits either linear radial growth of viral plaques or arrested plaque growth depending on the local concentration of type I interferons. The model suggests that modifying the activity of signaling molecules in the JAK/STAT pathway or altering the ratio of the diffusion lengths of interferon and virus in the cell culture could lead to plaque growth arrest. The dependence of plaque growth arrest on diffusion lengths highlights the importance ofmore »developing validated spatial models of cytokine signaling and the need for in vitro measurement of these diffusion coefficients. Sensitivity analyses under conditions leading to continuous or arrested plaque growth found that plaque growth is more sensitive to variations of most parameters and more likely to have identifiable model parameters when conditions lead to plaque arrest. This result suggests that cytokine assay measurements may be most informative under conditions leading to arrested plaque growth. The model is easy to extend to include SARS-CoV-2-specific mechanisms or to use as a component in models linking epithelial cell signaling to systemic immune models.« less
  3. Abstract Background

    The biophysics of an organism span multiple scales from subcellular to organismal and include processes characterized by spatial properties, such as the diffusion of molecules, cell migration, and flow of intravenous fluids. Mathematical biology seeks to explain biophysical processes in mathematical terms at, and across, all relevant spatial and temporal scales, through the generation of representative models. While non-spatial, ordinary differential equation (ODE) models are often used and readily calibrated to experimental data, they do not explicitly represent the spatial and stochastic features of a biological system, limiting their insights and applications. However, spatial models describing biological systems with spatial information are mathematically complex and computationally expensive, which limits the ability to calibrate and deploy them and highlights the need for simpler methods able to model the spatial features of biological systems.

    Results

    In this work, we develop a formal method for deriving cell-based, spatial, multicellular models from ODE models of population dynamics in biological systems, and vice versa. We provide examples of generating spatiotemporal, multicellular models from ODE models of viral infection and immune response. In these models, the determinants of agreement of spatial and non-spatial models are the degree of spatial heterogeneity in viral production and rates ofmore »extracellular viral diffusion and decay. We show how ODE model parameters can implicitly represent spatial parameters, and cell-based spatial models can generate uncertain predictions through sensitivity to stochastic cellular events, which is not a feature of ODE models. Using our method, we can test ODE models in a multicellular, spatial context and translate information to and from non-spatial and spatial models, which help to employ spatiotemporal multicellular models using calibrated ODE model parameters. We additionally investigate objects and processes implicitly represented by ODE model terms and parameters and improve the reproducibility of spatial, stochastic models.

    Conclusion

    We developed and demonstrate a method for generating spatiotemporal, multicellular models from non-spatial population dynamics models of multicellular systems. We envision employing our method to generate new ODE model terms from spatiotemporal and multicellular models, recast popular ODE models on a cellular basis, and generate better models for critical applications where spatial and stochastic features affect outcomes.

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  4. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mathematical modeling of disease transmission has become a cornerstone of key state decisions. To advance the state-of-the-art host viral modeling to handle future pandemics, many scientists working on related issues assembled to discuss the topics. These discussions exposed the reproducibility crisis that leads to inability to reuse and integrate models. This document summarizes these discussions, presents difficulties, and mentions existing efforts towards future solutions that will allow future model utility and integration. We argue that without addressing these challenges, scientists will have diminished ability to build, disseminate, and implement high-impact multi-scale modeling that is needed to understand the health crises we face.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 7, 2023
  5. In many mechanistic medical, biological, physical, and engineered spatiotemporal dynamic models the numerical solution of partial differential equations (PDEs), especially for diffusion, fluid flow and mechanical relaxation, can make simulations impractically slow. Biological models of tissues and organs often require the simultaneous calculation of the spatial variation of concentration of dozens of diffusing chemical species. One clinical example where rapid calculation of a diffusing field is of use is the estimation of oxygen gradients in the retina, based on imaging of the retinal vasculature, to guide surgical interventions in diabetic retinopathy. Furthermore, the ability to predict blood perfusion and oxygenation may one day guide clinical interventions in diverse settings, i.e., from stent placement in treating heart disease to BOLD fMRI interpretation in evaluating cognitive function (Xie et al., 2019 ; Lee et al., 2020 ). Since the quasi-steady-state solutions required for fast-diffusing chemical species like oxygen are particularly computationally costly, we consider the use of a neural network to provide an approximate solution to the steady-state diffusion equation. Machine learning surrogates, neural networks trained to provide approximate solutions to such complicated numerical problems, can often provide speed-ups of several orders of magnitude compared to direct calculation. Surrogates of PDEs couldmore »enable use of larger and more detailed models than are possible with direct calculation and can make including such simulations in real-time or near-real time workflows practical. Creating a surrogate requires running the direct calculation tens of thousands of times to generate training data and then training the neural network, both of which are computationally expensive. Often the practical applications of such models require thousands to millions of replica simulations, for example for parameter identification and uncertainty quantification, each of which gains speed from surrogate use and rapidly recovers the up-front costs of surrogate generation. We use a Convolutional Neural Network to approximate the stationary solution to the diffusion equation in the case of two equal-diameter, circular, constant-value sources located at random positions in a two-dimensional square domain with absorbing boundary conditions. Such a configuration caricatures the chemical concentration field of a fast-diffusing species like oxygen in a tissue with two parallel blood vessels in a cross section perpendicular to the two blood vessels. To improve convergence during training, we apply a training approach that uses roll-back to reject stochastic changes to the network that increase the loss function. The trained neural network approximation is about 1000 times faster than the direct calculation for individual replicas. Because different applications will have different criteria for acceptable approximation accuracy, we discuss a variety of loss functions and accuracy estimators that can help select the best network for a particular application. We briefly discuss some of the issues we encountered with overfitting, mismapping of the field values and the geometrical conditions that lead to large absolute and relative errors in the approximate solution.« less
  6. This Work-in-Progress paper in the Research Category uses a retrospective mixed-methods study to better understand the factors that mediate learning of computational modeling by life scientists. Key stakeholders, including leading scientists, universities and funding agencies, have promoted computational modeling to enable life sciences research and improve the translation of genetic and molecular biology high- throughput data into clinical results. Software platforms to facilitate computational modeling by biologists who lack advanced mathematical or programming skills have had some success, but none has achieved widespread use among life scientists. Because computational modeling is a core engineering skill of value to other STEM fields, it is critical for engineering and computer science educators to consider how we help students from across STEM disciplines learn computational modeling. Currently we lack sufficient research on how best to help life scientists learn computational modeling. To address this gap, in 2017, we observed a short-format summer course designed for life scientists to learn computational modeling. The course used a simulation environment designed to lower programming barriers. We used semi-structured interviews to understand students' experiences while taking the course and in applying computational modeling after the course. We conducted interviews with graduate students and post- doctoral researchers whomore »had completed the course. We also interviewed students who took the course between 2010 and 2013. Among these past attendees, we selected equal numbers of interview subjects who had and had not successfully published journal articles that incorporated computational modeling. This Work-in-Progress paper applies social cognitive theory to analyze the motivations of life scientists who seek training in computational modeling and their attitudes towards computational modeling. Additionally, we identify important social and environmental variables that influence successful application of computational modeling after course completion. The findings from this study may therefore help us educate biomedical and biological engineering students more effectively. Although this study focuses on life scientists, its findings can inform engineering and computer science education more broadly. Insights from this study may be especially useful in aiding incoming engineering and computer science students who do not have advanced mathematical or programming skills and in preparing undergraduate engineering students for collaborative work with life scientists.« less
  7. This Work-in-Progress paper in the Research Category explores the unique challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary education in computational modeling for life sciences student researchers at emerging research institutions (ERIs), specifically in predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), and minority serving institutions (MSIs). Engineering approaches such as computational modeling have underappreciated potential for capacity building for the biomedical research enterprises of ERIs. We perform a bibliometric analysis to assess the prevailing use of computational modeling in life sciences research at MSIs, and PUIs. Additionally, we apply Social and Cognitive Theory to identify unique attitudinal, social and structural barriers for student researchers in learning and using computational modeling approaches at each of these types of institutions. Specifically, we use quantitative retrospective pre- and post-survey data and qualitative interviews of students who have attended a short-format computational modeling training course. We supplement these data with qualitative interviews of the students' faculty sponsors. Upon completion, this study will provide deeper understanding of issues related to computer science and engineering education at non-Research I institutions.