Sartorius eBook - 6

THE FUTURE OF DRUG DISCOVERY: LIVE 3D CELL ANALYSIS

more able to stretch beyond the tumor body

for the maintenance of mechanical integrity

and form "invasive tips" that eventually are able

and biological function." Different diseases,

to break away and spread to other sites, or

developmental disorders, and poor wound repair

metastasize.

can result when such molecular- and cell-level

The findings offer up new insights into tumor

mechanisms don't all work together properly.

cell evolution and behavior that could point to

Studying how these processes are maintained

new anticancer therapeutic strategies focused

in a native, 3D multicellular microenvironment

on changing the physical properties of cancer

is a real challenge, however, and to date,

cells to delay or potentially even prevent a tumor

" ... it remains unknown how the physical

from spreading. "You can think of the tumor like

characteristics of individual cells regulate and

a sponge," said research lead Ming Guo, PhD,

coordinate tumor development and invasion," the

assistant professor of mechanical engineering at

authors acknowledged.

MIT. "When they grow, they build up compressive

Scientists have suspected that cancer cells

stresses inside the tumor, and that will squeeze

migrating away from a primary tumor are able to

the water from the core out to the cells on the

do so partly because they are relatively soft and

outside, which will slowly swell over time and

pliable, which allows them to navigate through

become softer as well-therefore they are more

the body's vasculature to distant sites. While

able to invade."

previous research has demonstrated the soft,

The scientists, including MIT first author Yu

migratory nature of individual cancer cells, Guo's

Long Han, and colleagues, described their results

team developed an approach for studying the

in Nature Physics, in a paper titled, "Cell swelling,

role of cell stiffness in the context of a developing

softening and invasion in a three-dimensional

tumor in 3D.

breast cancer model."
Living cells are dynamic systems that undergo

"People have looked at single cells for a long
time, but organisms are multicellular, three-

a diverse range of processes, including gene

dimensional systems," Guo said. "Each cell is a

expression and intracellular dynamics and forces

physical building block, and we're interested in

at the molecular level, and cell contraction,

how each single cell is regulating its own physical

deformation, and migration at the cellular level,

properties, as the cells develop into a tissue like a

the authors explained. "Within a multicellular

tumor or an organ."

system, the precise control of these physical
characteristics in space and time is critical
6|

GENengnews.com

The researchers used recently developed
techniques to grow healthy human epithelial


https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0680-8 https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0680-8 https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0680-8 http://www.GENengnews.com

Sartorius eBook

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