inflammatory breast cancer
A major focus is on understanding the mechanical properties of biological materials. And that ranges from animal cells to plant cells and we’re particularly interested in understanding the cell nucleus. which is where most of the genomic material, most of the DNA of the cells is contained, So there are many cells that appear in this way such as cells in our blood, white blood cells. Do we see What Does A Cancer Cell Look Like?
Nucleus has a different shape
In some cases, however, the nucleus has a different shape. So this is characteristic of some types of cancer cells where this increased volume it occupies inside of the cell is actually used as a marker for diagnosing and even prognosing cancer.
Breast cancer types
some types of breast cancer, for example, the more severe the shape irregularity, the worse the prognosis for breast cancer. This matters for the disease — so cancer cells, for example, are softer, more flexible than benign cells. And in fact, when treated with different drugs, they become stiffer.
So why is that?
This is a good question, something that we’re trying to better understand. In order to do this, we’re building a lot of new technologies to be able to probe the texture or squishiness of individual cells and nuclei.
How do we probe the mechanical proprieties of cells? These are very small objects: typically 10microns or 20 microns, maybe more, in diameter. This requires using very small pieces of equipment. One of the ways we do that is we build a tortuous path, fabricated into some silicon polymer, commonly known as a microfluidic device.
And then we force the cells to squeeze through these narrow constrictions, which gives us some indication of the deformability of the whole cell. We image the cells and the deformations of them using microscopes and high-speed cameras.
So some of these technologies that we’re developing could have eventually, a clinical impact. They could be used by doctors to be able to diagnose or determine which drug treatments might be most effective for particular patients.