Based on material’s properties of (cancer) cells the physicist Prof. Dr. Josef A. Käs as well as the medical scientist Prof. Dr. Dr. Michael Höckel came to the following results which could give rise to considerably changes in cancer therapies:
The research team found out that the biomechanical properties of tumor cells promote their growth as well as their invasion within the human body. Three biomechanical properties are in the focus of these observations: First, the outer cytoskeleton, the so called actin cortex of cancer cells is much softer and supports fast growth and cell division.
“We could evidence such behavior in a first clinical study, for example with Prof. Thorsten Remmerbach for oral cancer” claims the physicist. The second striking biomechanical property of cancer cells affects the tumor growth against the normal tissue surrounding the tumor: “Obviously, the cells do not have to stiffen linearly to grow against the environment. We can solve the apparent contradiction by considering that the soft actin cortex gets softer but nevertheless, it can resist high pressures exerted from the surroundings.
In reverse to the cell properties mentioned above, the researchers from Leipzig investigate agents which influence these properties to obtain new possibilities to suppress growth and invasion of tumor cells: “It is still a long way to go. However, we have new approaches for that,” Käs claims. His research is supported by the BMBF project AGESCREEN and EXPRIMAGE, as well as by the DFG Initiative of Excellence within the graduate school BuildMoNa.
The investigation of changes in physical, i.e. material, properties of cells during progression of cancer is an emerging field in physics redefining medical physics and now redefines itself based on material science. The University of Leipzig plays a leading role in this new field.
Meanwhile, the new findings were employed to apply for a patent with the title “Method for diagnosis and/or prognosis of cancer diseases by analysis of the mechanical properties of tumor cells.”Event announcement:
The minisymposium will be opend by the major of Leipzig Burkhard Jung on Oct. 25th, 9 h at the University of Leipzig, Seminargebäude, Room 420, Universitätsstr. 1.More information:
Dr. Manuela Rutsatz | Universität Leipzig
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