Fundamental Mechanobiology of Tumor Progression

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Investigator: Frank McCormick
Sponsor: Stanford University

Location(s): United States

Description

Mechanobiology seeks to understand how mechanical forces affect proteins, cells and tissues. Mechanical forces change how proteins cluster in membranes, affecting signaling, and also provide specific guidance to cells, helping them to decide where to divide and how to arrange themselves.  

Stanford Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (Stanford PS-OC) is collaborating with UCSF to determine how mechanobiology influences tumorigenesis in breast cancer. This center’s primary focus will be on the triple negative subtype of basal breast cancer, which lacks the estrogen, progesterone, and Her2/neu receptors. Patients with this more aggressive, triple negative subtype have fewer treatment options and an overall poor prognosis. These investigators hypothesize that the malignant phenotype is maintained by exchanges with its microenvironment and that reversion can occur if these pressures are normalized. This center will also examine how mechanical signals trigger genetic changes that induce tumorigenesis. Groundbreaking force probes and imaging techniques will gauge the forces within breast cancer model systems. The integration of these state-of-the-art tools in the physical, theoretical and biological sciences will cultivate models of various interactions of the model systems with their microenvironment. Furthermore, cellular plasticity and reversion research will be executed and could lead to potential therapeutics targeted to the cellular microenvironment.