PhysiCell demo: heterogeneous tumor growth

This is Video S7 in Ghaffarizadeh et al. (2018). A higher-resolution (4K) video can be streamed at


Early test on competition in a heterogeneous cell population. Cancer cells have a varying expression of a mutant oncoprotein, here shaded from blue (least expression) to yellow (most expression).

Cells proliferate at a rate proportional to oxygen availability and oncoprotein expression. Note the gradual population evolution towards yellower cells. This is selection over the course of 30 days of tumor growth, with parameter values very similar to MCF10A.

The brown center is a necrotic core.


Blue cells: tumor cells with least oncoprotein

Yellow cells: tumor cells with most oncoprotein

Dark dots: cell nuclei

Brown cells: necrotic tumor cells and debris

This work is based on PhysiCell, an open source 3-D modeling package for multicellular biology at

Method: Demonstration of PhysiCell, an agent-based, lattice-free model. Cell velocities determined by balance of adhesive, repulsive, and motile forces. Each cell has a phenotypic state governed by stochastic processes derived from nonhomogeneous Poisson processes.

Software source: PhysiCell is available as open source at,, and