Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Medicine, Health Care > To Revert Breast Cancer Cells,… >
To Revert Breast Cancer Cells, Give Them the Squeeze

Published: December 17, 2012.
By University of California - Berkeley
http://www.berkeley.edu

BERKELEY — Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have put the squeeze — literally — on malignant mammary cells to guide them back into a normal growth pattern.

The findings, to be presented Monday, Dec. 17, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco, show for the first time that mechanical forces alone can revert and stop the out-of-control growth of cancer cells. This change happens even though the genetic mutations responsible for malignancy remain, setting up a nature-versus-nurture battle in determining a cell's fate.

"We are showing that tissue organization is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development," said principal investigator Daniel Fletcher, professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley and faculty scientist at the Berkeley Lab. "An early signal, in the form of compression, appears to get these malignant cells back on the right track."

Throughout a woman's life, breast tissue grows, shrinks and shifts in a highly organized way in response to changes in her reproductive cycle. For instance, when forming acini, the berry-shaped structures that secrete milk during lactation, healthy breast cells will rotate as they form an organized structure. And, importantly, the cells stop growing when they are supposed to.

One of the early hallmarks of breast cancer is the breakdown of this normal growth pattern. Not only do cancer cells continue to grow irregularly when they shouldn't, recent studies have shown that they do not rotate coherently when forming acini.

While the traditional view of cancer development focuses on the genetic mutations within the cell, Mina Bissell, Distinguished Scientist at the Berkeley Lab, conducted pioneering experiments that showed that a malignant cell is not doomed to become a tumor, but that its fate is dependent on its interaction with the surrounding microenvironment. Her experiments showed that manipulation of this environment, through the introduction of biochemical inhibitors, could tame mutated mammary cells into behaving normally.

The latest work from Fletcher's lab, in collaboration with Bissell's lab, takes a major step forward by introducing the concept of mechanical rather than chemical influences on cancer cell growth. Gautham Venugopalan, a member of Fletcher's lab, conducted the new experiments as part of his recently completed Ph.D. dissertation at UC Berkeley.

"People have known for centuries that physical force can influence our bodies," said Venugopalan. "When we lift weights, our muscles get bigger. The force of gravity is essential to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that physical force can play a role in the growth — and reversion — of cancer cells."

Venugopalan and collaborators grew malignant breast epithelial cells in a gelatin-like substance that had been injected into flexible silicone chambers. The flexible chambers allowed the researchers to apply a compressive force in the first stages of cell development.

Over time, the compressed malignant cells grew into more organized, healthy-looking acini that resembled normal structures, compared with malignant cells that were not compressed. The researchers used time-lapse microscopy over several days to show that early compression also induced coherent rotation in the malignant cells, a characteristic feature of normal development.

Notably, those cells stopped growing once the breast tissue structure was formed, even though the compressive force had been removed.

"Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back into a healthy growth pattern," said Venugopalan.

Researchers further added a drug that blocked E-cadherin, a protein that helps cells adhere to their neighbors. When they did this, the malignant cells returned to their disorganized, cancerous appearance, negating the effects of compression and demonstrating the importance of cell-to-cell communication in organized structure formation.

It should be noted that the researchers are not proposing the development of compression bras as a treatment for breast cancer. "Compression, in and of itself, is not likely to be a therapy," said Fletcher. "But this does give us new clues to track down the molecules and structures that could eventually be targeted for therapies."


Show Reference »


Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


 
All comments are reviewed before being posted. We cannot accept messages that refer a product, or web site.If you are looking for a response to a question please use our another feedback page.
Related »

Metastatic 
10/10/12 

Squeezing Ovarian Cancer Cells to Predict Metastatic Potential
By Georgia Institute of Technology
Tissue 
5/27/10 
Scaffold Gradients: Finding the Right Environment for Developing Cells
By National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
People often have strong opinions on the "right" firmness of mattresses for themselves, and, as it turns out, some cell types have similar preferences for their support structures. Now …
Cancer 
4/26/13 

Physicists, Biologists Unite to Expose How Cancer Spreads
By Princeton University
Cells 
12/13/13 
New Discovery on How Skin Cells Form 'Bridges' Paves the Way for Advances in Wound Healing
By National University of Singapore
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered that outer skin cells are able to unite to form suspended "bridges" during wound healing. The …
Cells 
7/18/13 
Ovarian Cancer Metastases Influenced by Factors in Target Tissues
By Elsevier Health Sciences
Philadelphia, PA, July 18, 2013 – Cancer researchers have wondered why ovarian cancer cells are so attracted to the abdominal cavity, especially the omentum, with the hope that such …
Cells 
3/5/14 
★★★★ 

New Shrinking Gel Steers Tooth Tissue Formation
By Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Response 
4/9/14 

UNC Researchers Show How Cancer Cells May Respond to Mechanical Force
By University of North Carolina Health Care
Trcs 
8/7/14 
Cell Mechanics May Hold Key to How Cancer Spreads And Recurs
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — 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 …
Tissue 
3/12/14 

Surface Characteristics Influence Cellular Growth on Semiconductor Material
By North Carolina State University
More » 
 
© Newsline Group  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese Edition