Understanding how the cell interacts with the contents of its surrounding environment inside the human body, including the introduction of a drug, is a fundamental biological question. The answers have implications in cancer diagnosis and therapy, as well as tissue engineering, Agah said.
In previous experimentation by others in the field, researchers have exposed cells to mechanical, chemical and three-dimensional topographical stimuli. They recorded the cells' various responses in terms of migration, growth, and ability to adhere. Also, in the past, researchers have created substrates of precise micro- and nano-topographical and chemical patterns to mimic in vivo microenvironments for biological and medical applications.
What distinguishes the work of Agah, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award recipient, and his colleagues, is they developed a specific three-dimensional silicon microstructure for their work. Due to its curved isotropic surfaces, they were able to characterize and compare the growth and adhesion behavior of normal fibroblast and metastatic human breast cancer cells, they reported in Biomaterials.
"In invasive breast carcinoma, tumor cells will fill a milk duct, and the basement membrane," they wrote. This action allows the carcinoma cells and the fibroblast cells of the breast tissue to be in close proximity, constituting "a critical pathobiological transition that leads to the progression of the disease," Strobl said.
Using their uniquely designed three-dimensional silicon microstructure, they were able to incorporate three key cellular components found in any breast tumor microenvironment. Additionally, they were able to determine the detailed interaction of the cells with
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