Modeling the tumor microenvironment with nanostructured material

Conference Dates

July 3-7, 2016


The complex microenvironment in a solid tumor is a major barrier in understanding the molecular and mechanical mechanisms that control cancer progression. Biophysical approaches used to quantify the intracellular forces from the actin cytoskeleton and surface traction forces from adhesion allow us to probe the biomechanical properties of individual cells with an unprecedented level of detail. By systematically investigating the parameters in the tumor microenvironment that control cancer cell behavior, as well as their interactions with tumor-associated stromal cells, we hope to gain a better understanding of malignant cell behavior. Toward this end, my lab has developed a high-content mechanomic screening approach to simultaneously profile forces exerted by cells in the tumor on the underlying matrix, along with a number of other cell variables (including morphology, motility, growth, and apoptosis) important in cancer progression. Cells are seeded on synthetic and natural biomaterials engineered to mimic different aspects of human tissues. My presentation will focus on lessons we’ve learned from modeling the tumor microenvironment with these nanostructured materials.

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