New way to screen breast cancer cells' ability to metastasize

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Washington, Jan 9 (ANI): Using specific silicon microdevices might provide a new way to screen breast cancer cells' ability to metastasize, says a new research.ell cytoskeleton refers to the cell's shape and its mechanical properties, Virginia Tech researcher Masoud Agah explained.

"Any change in the cytoskeletal structure can affect the interaction of cells with their surrounding microenvironments. Biological events in normal cells such as embryonic development, tissue growth and repair, and immune responses, as well as cancer cell motility and invasiveness are dependent upon cytoskeletal reorganization," the electrical engineer added.

Understanding how the cell interacts with the contents of its surrounding environment inside the human body, including the introduction of a drug, is a fundamental biological question.

The answers have implications in cancer diagnosis and therapy, as well as tissue engineering, Agah said.

In previous experimentation by others in the field, researchers have exposed cells to mechanical, chemical and three-dimensional topographical stimuli.

They recorded the cells' various responses in terms of migration, growth, and ability to adhere. Also, in the past, researchers have created substrates of precise micro- and nano-topographical and chemical patterns to mimic in vivo microenvironments for biological and medical applications.

What distinguishes the work of Agah and his colleagues, is they developed a specific three-dimensional silicon microstructure for their work.

Due to its curved isotropic surfaces, they were able to characterize and compare the growth and adhesion behavior of normal fibroblast and metastatic human beast cancer cells, they reported in Biomaterials.

"In invasive breast carcinoma, tumor cells will fill a milk duct, and the basement membrane," they said.

This action allows the carcinoma cells and the fibroblast cells of the breast tissue to be in close proximity, constituting "a critical pathobiological transition that leads to the progression of the disease," Strobl said.

Using their uniquely designed three-dimensional silicon microstructure, they were able to incorporate three key cellular components found in any breast tumor microenvironment.

Additionally, they were able to determine the detailed interaction of the cells within this environment, including the normal breast cells, the metastatic breast cancer cells, and the fibroblast cells.

Their understanding of the behavior of the cells within the microstructures is what leads them to believe their research could "provide important diagnostic and prognostic markers unique to the tumor, which could ultimately be used to develop new tools for the detection and treatment of cancer." (ANI)

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