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Engineering Approaches to Studying Cancer Cell Migration
March 10 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm UTC-5
During cancer metastasis, cells move from the primary tumor, traversing heterogeneous terrain before seeding within a secondary site. Quantitative systems biology observes this terrain, including changes in tissue stiffness and architecture which can affect cell behavior and metastatic potential.
In this talk, I will describe my lab’s efforts to understand the forces driving cell movements through the mechanically and structurally heterogeneous tumor micro-environment. By combining tissue engineering, mouse models, and patient samples, we create and validate in-vitro systems to understand how cells navigate the tumor stroma environment with the goal of identifying novel targets of cancer metastasis.
Additionally, I will discuss our work using phenotypic sorting to identify the most migratory cells and 3D engineered models to understand collective movements. We have also employed microfabrication and native bio-materials to build mimics of the paths created and taken by cells during metastasis to identify several novel mechanisms that cells employ during migration and metastasis.
We are using this knowledge to feed into the growing field of mechanomedicine, an emerging area of mechanobiology that seeks to develop and apply therapeutics that target mechanical changes within cells and tissues.
Cynthia A. Reinhart-King, PhD
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University