Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers characterize biomechanics of ovarian cells according to phenotype at stages of cancer

Date:
July 11, 2011
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Using ovarian surface epithelial cells from mice, researchers have released findings from a study that they believe will help in cancer risk assessment, cancer diagnosis, and treatment efficiency.

Masoud Agah directs Virginia Tech's Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory or VT MEMS Lab. The lab resides within the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the MicrON Research Group. Some of its recent work includes: the development of micro gas analyzers for environmental and health-care applications, and biochips for cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment monitoring.
Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

Using ovarian surface epithelial cells from mice, researchers from Virginia Tech have released findings from a study that they believe will help in cancer risk assessment, cancer diagnosis, and treatment efficiency in a technical journal: Nanomedicine.

By studying the viscoelastic properties of the ovarian cells of mice, they were able to identify differences between early stages of ovarian cancer and more advanced and aggressive phenotypes.

Their studies showed a mouse's ovarian cells are stiffer and more viscous when they are benign. Increases in cell deformation "directly correlates with the progression from a non-tumor benign cell to a malignant one that can produce tumors and metastases in mice," said Masoud Agah, director of Virginia Tech's Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) Laboratory and the lead investigator on the study.

Their findings are consistent with a University of California at Los Angeles study that reported lung, breast, and pancreatic metastatic cells are 70 percent softer than benign cells.

The findings also support Agah group's previous reports on elastic properties of breast cell lines.

Agah worked with Eva Schmelz of Virginia Tech's Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Chris Roberts of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and Alperen N. Ketene, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, on this work supported by the National Science Foundation and Virginia Tech's Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

They are among a number of researchers attempting to decipher the association of molecular and mechanical events that lead to cancer and its progression. As they are successful, physicians will be able to make better diagnostic and treatment decisions based not only on an individual's genetic fingerprint but also a biomechanical signature.

However, since cancer has multiple causes, various levels of severity, and a wide range of individual responses to the same treatments, the research on cancer progression has been challenging.

A turning point to the research has come with recent advances in nanotechnology, combined with engineering and medicine. Agah and his colleagues now have the critical ability to study the elastic or stretching ability of cells as well as their ability to stick to other cells. These studies on the biomechanics of the cell, linked to a cell's structure "are crucial for the development of disease-treating drugs and detection methods," Agah said.

Using an atomic force microscope (AFM), a relatively new invention by research standards, they are able to characterize cell structure to nanoscale precision. The microscope analyzes live cultured cells and it is able to detect key biomechanical differences between non-transformed and cancerous cells.

From these studies, cancerous cells appear softer or deform at a higher rate than their healthier, non-transformed counterparts, Agah said. In addition, their fluidity increases.

The Virginia Tech researchers selected to study ovarian cancer because it is one of the most lethal types in women and is normally diagnosed late in older patients when the disease has already progressed and metastasized.

Agah reported that no previous information existed about the biomechanical properties of both malignant and benign human ovarian cells, and how they change over time.

However, the mouse studies conducted by this interdisciplinary group of researchers at Virginia Tech have now shown how a cell, as it undergoes transformation towards malignancy, changes its size, loses its innate design of a tightly organized structure, and instead acquires the capacity to grow independently and form tumors.

"We have characterized the cells according to their phenotype into early-benign, intermediate, and late-aggressive stages of cancer that corresponded with their biomechanical properties," Agah reported.

"The mouse ovarian cancer model represents a valid and novel alternative to studying human cell lines and provides important information on the progressive stages of the ovarian cancer," Schmelz and Roberts commented.

"Cell viscosity is an important characteristic of a material because all materials exhibit some form of time-dependent strain," Agah said. This trait is an "imperative" part of any analysis of biological cells.

Their findings confirm that the cytoskeleton affects the biomechanical properties of cells. Changes in these properties can be related to the motility of cancer cells and potentially their ability to invade other cells.

"When cells undergo changes in their viscoelastic properties, they are increasingly able to deform, squeeze, and migrate through size-limiting pores of tissue or vasculature onto other parts of the body," Agah said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Alperen N. Ketene, Eva M. Schmelz, Paul C. Roberts, Masoud Agah. The effects of cancer progression on the viscoelasticity of ovarian cell cytoskeleton structures. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.nano.2011.05.012
  2. Jeannine S. Strobl, Mehdi Nikkhah, Masoud Agah. Actions of the anti-cancer drug suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) on human breast cancer cytoarchitecture in silicon microstructures. Biomaterials, 2010; 31 (27): 7043 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.05.023
  3. Mehdi Nikkhah, Jeannine S. Strobl, Raffaella De Vita, Masoud Agah. The cytoskeletal organization of breast carcinoma and fibroblast cells inside three dimensional (3-D) isotropic silicon microstructures. Biomaterials, 2010; 31 (16): 4552 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.02.034

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Researchers characterize biomechanics of ovarian cells according to phenotype at stages of cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705183855.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2011, July 11). Researchers characterize biomechanics of ovarian cells according to phenotype at stages of cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705183855.htm
Virginia Tech. "Researchers characterize biomechanics of ovarian cells according to phenotype at stages of cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705183855.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says he expects revised CDC protocols on Ebola to focus on training, observation and ensuring health care workers are more protected. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins