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Overcoming Channel Uncertainties in Touchable Molecular Communication for Direct-Drug-Targeting-Assisted Immuno-Chemotherapy

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The performance of targeted immuno-chemotherapy of tumor is highly exposed to drug absorption in systemic circulation, which reduces its efficiency and increases side-effects. Direct drug targeting (DDT) combined with immuno-chemotherapy has the potential to mitigate the undesired systemic exposure, by using drug-loaded nanorobots to target cancer cells with the shortest possible physiological routes. This process can be modeled by the “touchable” (i.e., externally controllable and trackable) molecular communication system. However, such a complex process still suffers from various pharmacokinetic uncertainties caused by diffusion, degeneration, and branching of nanorobots (DDT pharmacokinetic uncertainties), as well as tumor/immune system modeling errors. The current work aims at identifying optimal drug administration plans by overcoming such challenges. Methods: A revisited tumor-immune interaction model is proposed to incorporate randomness of the drug concentration in the tumor site. Then, a robust multiple model predictive control (MMPC) scheme for the proposed tumor-immune interaction model is designed that uses multiple system models and an adaptive switch to identify the optimal plans for mixed drug administration via drug-loaded nanorobots. Furthermore, a wide range of prediction horizons under different loss scenarios of drug-loaded nanorobots and system model mismatches have been investigated in order to identify safe operating regions. From the molecular communications paradigm, this can be considered as a more robust information transmission system with feedback of channel state information to the transmitter implemented in the control unit. Results: The efficacy of the proposed MMPC is illustrated through identification of globally optimized drug administration schedules subject to various controller operation imperfections, which lead to successful cancer treatment as demonstrated through computational experiments. Conclusion: By combining DDT with conventional mixed immunotherapy and chemotherapy, the proposed robust MMPC offers promising performance in controlling tumor growth while keeping the immune cell density higher than a specific level in the presence of both DDT pharmacokinetic uncertainties and system model mismatches. Significance: We believe that the proposed design framework represents an important first step towards clinically relevant DDT in the combined immunotherapy and chemotherapy of tumor given its robust performance.

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