Minnesota researchers discover key feature in invasive cancer cell migration

In a recent paper, published in Nature Materials, an international team of researchers led by Professor David Odde in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota has demonstrated that cancer cells can migrate from regions of high stiffness to regions of lower stiffness. This behavior is central to metastasis, the process by which cancer cells move from their initial location and invade other tissues resulting in the spread of tumors, making the disease much more difficult to treat. The highly interdisciplinary team included engineers, chemists, molecular biologists and computer scientists. Professor Mark Distefano, one of the scientists on the team, notes that “Chemistry played a central role in this project since it allowed the synthesis of materials whose stiffness could be precisely controlled using a photocleavable crosslinker incorporated into a hydrophilic polymer. That allowed us to create regions of specific stiffness in a spatially controlled manner that could be used in subsequent cell-based experiments”. Beyond showing that cells can migrate in this stiffness-directed manner, the study also provides a mathematical model that accounts for this behavior with key proteins acting as “motors” and “clutches”.

cancer cell spread picture

This work has received considerable attention including a short feature in Newsweek (https://www.newsweek.com/cancer-cells-thrive-bodys-sweet-spots-study-1724827)

Other coverage of this work includesNature; July 12: Agadir GroupBioengineerBpissuenewsEurekAlert!Finance NewsHappy Euro AnimaHardypwHonest ColumnistLempiratimesThe Medical NewsMediumMedMDsMid FeedMirageNBC FeedNews AziNews wiseNewsXproPhoenixbioinfosysPublisher HealthReporter WingsThe Science Advisory BoardScienceDailyScienmag Science MagazineSwiftTelecastTamilbloggersToday News 24Todays ChronicTrainersAddaVerve timesZipe educationWaveviral; July 13: Technology NetworksTechnology Networks Analysis & SeparationsTechnology Networks Cell ScienceTechnology Networks Cancer ResearchTimes of NewsToday's SciencologyWish TV; July 14: NewsweekOverclockers (Russian); July 15: Acting Chance;