Washington [US], March 20 (ANI): Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently identified the properties of the protective membrane around tumors and found that this lining could be a good target for treatments to prevent metastasis.
For cancer cells to metastasize, they must first break free of the tumor’s own defenses. Most tumors are peeled in a “floor” protective ball – a thin, pliable film that keeps cancer cells in place as they grow and separate. Before they spread to other parts of the body, the cells have to break down the basement, a substance that scientists have found difficult to characterize.
MIT engineers have now examined the organs of breast cancer tumors and have found that the delicate coating is as hard as a plastic cover, but which is surprisingly elastic like a balloon. party, able to fit twice the original size.
But while a balloon becomes much easier to blow up after a little effort, the team found that a balloon is harder as it expands.
This stiff but elastic quality may help organs control how tumors grow. The fact that the organs appear to stiffen as they expand suggests that they may inhibit tumor growth and their ability to diffuse, or metastasize, to a lesser extent. at least.
The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could open a new path toward the prevention of tumor metastasis, which is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths.
“Now we can think of ways to add new substances or drugs to strengthen this strong effect, and increase the hardness of the organs to prevent cancer cells from breaking through, “said Ming Guo, lead author of the study and associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT.
Guo’s co-authors include first author Hui Li of Beijing Normal University, Yue Zheng and Shengqiang Cai of the University of California at Santa Diego, and MIT postdoc Yu Long Han.
The basement membrane surrounds not only cancerous growth but also healthy tissues and organs. The film – a thick layer of human hair – serves as a physical support that holds joints and organs in place and helps shape their geometry, while keeping them unique and special.
Guo’s group specializes in the study of cell mechanics, with a focus on the behavior of cancer cells and the processes that drive tumors to metastasize. The researchers had been studying how these cells interact with their surroundings as they migrate through the body.
“It’s an urgent question that we realized didn’t get enough attention, what about the membrane around tumors?” Guo says. “To find out, cells have to break down this layer. What is this layer in terms of material properties? Is it something that cells have to work hard to break down? It is that made us look into the lower limbs. ”To measure the organs of the organs. buildings, scientists have employed an atomic force microscope (AFM), using a tiny mechanical probe to gently push on the surface of the organs. The force required to deform the surface may give researchers an idea of the strength or elasticity of a material. However, as the basement ball is very thin and difficult to separate from underground weaving, Guo says it is difficult to deduce from AFM measurements what the membrane tension is, as well as the material underneath.
Instead, the team used a simple method, similar to blowing a balloon, to remove the membrane and measure its elasticity. They first grew human breast cancer cells, which naturally break down proteins to form organs around groups of cells called tumor spheroids. They grew several spheroids of different sizes and inserted a glass microneedle into each tumor. They infiltrated the tumors with fluid at a controlled pressure, causing the organs to separate from the cells and go up like a balloon.
The researchers applied various steady weights to enlarge the organs until they reached a stable state, or to expand no further, and then removed the weight.
“It’s a very simple test that can tell you a few things,” Guo says. “One of them is, when you introduce pressure to swallow this balloon, it grows a lot bigger than its original size. And as soon as you put out the weight, it shrinks. gradually, which is a classic behavior of an elastic material, similar to rubber. balloon. “As they entered each spheroid, the researchers noted that although the ability of an organ infiltration and damage showing that it was generally elastic like a balloon, the more specific details of this behavior were strikingly different.
Blowing up a latex balloon usually requires a lot of effort and pressure to get started. As soon as it gets going and starts to go a bit, the balloon will suddenly become much easier to explode.
“Usually, once the balloon’s radius rises to about 38 percent, you don’t have to blow harder – just maintain pressure and the balloon expands dramatically,” Guo explains. say.
This phenomenon, known as snap-through instability, is seen in balloons made of materials that are linear elastic, meaning that the sexual elasticity, or stiffness, does not change as they deform or go up.
But based on their measurements, the researchers found that the lower membrane instead of becoming harder, or more stable as it went up, showed that the invisible material is elastic, and able to change its stiffness as it deforms.
“If snap-through instability happened, a tumor would become an accident – it would just explode,” Guo says. “In this case, no. That shows me that the lower membrane controls growth.” The team plans to measure the features of the organs at different stages of cancer development, as well. carried around nappies and healthy organs. . They are also exploring ways to change the elasticity of the organs to see if it can harder prevent cancer cells from breaking through.
“We are actively pursuing how you can change the mechanics of these organs, and the effects they can have on breast cancer models, to see if we can delay the onset or metastasis,” Guo “This is like making a harder balloon, which we plan to try. “(ANI)