Researchers at Michigan Tech have engineered synthetic versions of the extracellular matrix to study the growth of cancer cells, according to a report published on January 9 in IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.
The scaffolds, which were created with an “electrospinner” that uses electric fields to weave matrices out of nano-fibers, come in three shapes: honeycomb, mesh, and aligned, in which the fibers are tightly packed similar to connective tissue. The authors “discovered that the triple-negative breast cancer cells preferred honeycomb scaffolds while adenocarcinoma cells favored mesh scaffolds and premalignant cells preferred the aligned scaffolds,” according to a press release.
Coauthor Smitha Rao says in the statement that this new technology can help researchers to study “how and why cancer cells metastasize. We can understand in a true 3D system why pre-metastatic cells become metastatic, and provide tools to other researchers to study signaling pathways that change between pre-malignant and malignant cells.”
S.N. Hanumantharao et al., “Engineered three-dimensional scaffolds modulating fate of breast cancer cells using stiffness and morphology related cell adhesion,” IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, doi:10.1109/OJEMB.2020.2965084, 2020.
Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.