Not all cancer cells are created equal – some stay put in the primary tumor, while others move and invade elsewhere. A major goal for cancer research is predicting which cells will metastasize, and why.
A Cornell cancer research team is taking a new approach to screening for these dangerous cells, using a microfluidic device they invented that isolates only the most aggressive, metastatic cells.
“The approach we’ve taken is a reverse approach from what is conventionally done,” said Cynthia Reinhart-King, associate professor of biomedical engineering and senior author of the recently published Technology Journal paper describing the research.
“Instead of looking at what molecules are being expressed by the tumor, we’re looking for the phenotype – that is, the behavior – of individual cells first. Then we can determine what molecules are causing that behavior.”
Typically, searching for biomarkers of metastasis has focused on screening for certain molecules or genes expressed by large numbers of migrating cancer cells. The problem is that it’s easy to miss subtle differences in the tiny subpopulations of cells that are the most aggressive.
Taking, for example, 100 tumors and seeking out molecular biomarkers for metastasis, one particular molecule might be identified as being “upregulated” in those tumors, Reinhart-King said. But it’s not the whole tumor expressing that particular molecule – some cells express the biomarker and some do not.
The researchers decided to first sort cells with the most aggressive behavior, and analyze only them for molecular changes. Their innovation is a microfluidic device that contains side channels to wash out the less aggressive cells, while herding the more aggressive ones into a separate channel.
For their proof-of-concept, the researchers screened for cells with migratory responses to Epidermal Growth Factor, for which the receptor is known to be present in most human cancers and is tightly linked to poor prognosis.
“The thing we’re most excited about, in addition to the physical device, is the conceptual framework we’re using by trying to shift gears and screen for cells that are causing the worst parts of the disease,” Reinhart-King said. The device could also be used in other applications of tissue engineering, inflammation and wound healing.
Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews. For additional information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.
Melissa Osgood | Eurek Alert!
The intravenous swim team
28.07.2016 | Drexel University
MRI technique induces strong, enduring visual association
01.07.2016 | Brown University
Transparent electronics devices are present in today’s thin film displays, solar cells, and touchscreens. The future will bring flexible versions of such devices. Their production requires printable materials that are transparent and remain highly conductive even when deformed. Researchers at INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials have combined a new self-assembling nano ink with an imprint process to create flexible conductive grids with a resolution below one micrometer.
To print the grids, an ink of gold nanowires is applied to a substrate. A structured stamp is pressed on the substrate and forces the ink into a pattern. “The...
A new Fraunhofer MEVIS method conveys medical interrelationships quickly and intuitively with innovative visualization technology
On the monitor, a brain spins slowly and can be examined from every angle. Suddenly, some sections start glowing, first on the side and then the entire back of...
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.
While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.
Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.
Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...
Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases
Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...
29.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
29.07.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
29.07.2016 | Life Sciences
29.07.2016 | Event News