Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Cell mechanics may hold key to how cancer spreads and recurs

Abstract:
Cancer cells that break away from tumors to go looking for a new home may prefer to settle into a soft bed, according to new findings from researchers at the University of Illinois.

Cell mechanics may hold key to how cancer spreads and recurs

Champaign, IL | Posted on August 6th, 2014

Some particularly enterprising cancer cells can cause a cancer to spread to other organs, called metastasis, or evade treatment to resurface after a patient is thought to be in remission. The Illinois team, along with colleagues in China, found that these so-called tumor-repopulating cells may lurk quietly in stiffer cellular environments, but thrive in a softer space. The results appear in the journal Nature Communications.

"What causes relapse is not clear," said study leader Ning Wang. Wang is the Leonard C. and Mary Lou Hoeft Professor in Engineering and professor of mechanical science and engineering of the U. of I. "Why are there a few cells left that can come back stronger? We thought cancer cells may have some properties in common with stem cells, which allows them to metastasize to different tissues. Normally, if you take a liver cell and put it in your lung, it will die. But an undifferentiated cell will live."

Two years ago, Wang's group published a method for selecting tumor-repopulating cells (TRCs) from a culture. Thanks to this selection method, the researchers isolated and studied TRCs from melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer notorious for spreading and recurring, to see how the mechanical environment around the cells affected their ability to multiply and cause new tumors.

The researchers grew the cells on gels of different stiffnesses - some very soft and some more firm, to mimic different types of tissues in the body. What they found surprised them.

The TRCs placed in very soft gels grew and multiplied, as expected. The cells placed on stiffer gels did not proliferate; however, they did not die, either - they became dormant. When the researchers later transferred the dormant TRCs to a soft gel, the cells "woke up" and began to multiply and spread.

Wang speculates that these properties of dormancy and reawakening when the mechanical environment is more inviting may explain why soft tissues, such as the brain or lungs, are most vulnerable to metastasis.

"We have many different types of organs where solid tumors originate, but if you look at the metastasized sites, the majority are in soft tissues," said Wang. "Brain, lung, liver and bone marrow, all soft. So it may not be coincidence. We need to do more research."

Next, Wang and colleagues hope to tackle the question of what makes TRCs so resistant to drugs, a trait that makes recurrent cancer much harder to treat. Unlocking this puzzle may help doctors fight recurrent cancer, although Wang hopes that understanding how TRCs work can lead to treatments that prevent metastasis in the first place.

"The key issue in this paper is outlining the mechanisms that control how TRCs proliferate," Wang said. "The importance of knowing these mechanisms is that we now have targets that we didn't have before, specific targets for new types of drugs that will interfere with this renewal pathway. It could give us a new avenue for treatment and preventing relapse."

The National Institutes of Health supported this work. Wang also is affiliated with the Department of Bioengineering, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the U. of I.

The paper, "Matrix softness regulates plasticity of tumor-repopulating cells via H3K9 demethylation and Sox2 expression," is available from Nature Publishing Group.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Liz Ahlberg
Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073


Ning Wang
217-265-0913

Copyright © University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Nanomedicine

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology December 5th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI) Volume 6, issue 2 coming out soon! December 5th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Discoveries

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Announcements

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Nanobiotechnology

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology December 5th, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Nanobiotix Provides Update on Global Development of Lead Product NBTXR3: Seven clinical trials across the world: More than 2/3 of STS patients recruited in the “act.in.sarc” Phase II/III trial: Phase I/II prostate cancer trial now recruiting in the U.S. November 28th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project