Sartorius eBook - 8

THE FUTURE OF DRUG DISCOVERY: LIVE 3D CELL ANALYSIS

the investigators stated.
As part of their experimental approach, the
researchers repeatedly infused the growing mass
of cells with plastic particles. They then probed

out of the interior cells and into those cells at
the periphery, through the nanometer-sized gap
junction (GJ) channels between them.
To see whether altering the peripheral

each individual cell's stiffness using optical

cells' water content would affect their invasive

tweezers. The technique involves directing a

behavior, the investigators added low-molecular-

highly focused laser beam at a cell. In this case,

weight polymers to the tumor solution to draw

the team trained the laser on a plastic particle

water out from cells. They found that the outer

within each cell, pinning the particle in place.

cells then shrank, became more stiff, and were

They then applied a slight pulse in an attempt to

less likely to migrate away from the tumor-a

move the particle within the cell, akin to using

measure that delayed metastasis. When water

tweezers to pick a piece of eggshell out from the

was added to dilute the tumor solution, the cells

surrounding yolk.

at the periphery swelled, became softer, and

Guo says the degree to which a particle can be
moved gives an indication of the stiffness of the

formed invasive tips more quickly.
The investigators then obtained a sample of

surrounding cell. The more resistant the particle

a patient's breast cancer tumor and measured

is to being moved, the stiffer a cell must be. The

the size of every cell within the tumor sample.

team's experimental results indicated that the

They observed a gradient of size that was similar

hundreds of cells within a single benign tumor

to that observed in the lab-derived tumor. Cells

exhibited a gradient of stiffness as well as size.

in the tumor's core were smaller than those

The cells in the interior of the growing mass were

closer to the periphery. "Within the tumor mass,

smaller and stiffer, while the further the cells were

spheroidal, acinar clusters of cells surrounded

from the core, the softer and larger they were.

by basement membrane were evident, which

These peripheral cells also became more likely to

share similar characteristics with our 3D cancer

stretch out from the spherical primary tumor and

model," the scientists noted. "In such spheroidal

form branches, or invasive tips.

acinar clusters, we found that the nuclear volume

The researchers found that the cells at

increased as the distance from the center

the tumor's edges were softer because they

increased, consistent with our model system.

contained more water than those in the center.

Cells in the core had smaller volumes, while

The cells in the center of a tumor are surrounded

invasive cells that appeared to have escaped from

by other cells that press inward, squeezing water

the main cluster had larger volumes."

8|

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