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Energy, security, superconductivity and more at the largest physics meeting of the year
Date:3/21/2011

AR11/Event/137044">http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR11/Event/137044
J7.00005 http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR11/Event/138938

Tuesday, March 22, 11:00 a.m.

UNDERSTANDING CANCER

The study of cancer and the search for a cure are getting an assist from physical science laboratories. The initiation and progression of a tumor is a complex process, resembling the growth of an embryo. Typically, scientists view cancer cells as rogue individuals violating the rules of the game, but Robert Austin (Q7.00001) of Princeton University suggests that what we see is actually a programmed process. He asks whether tumor progression is dominated by the random acquisition of successive survival traits, or, as he concludes, by a systematic and sequential unpacking of "weapons'' from a pre-adapted "toolkit'' of genetic and epigenetic potentialities. Epigenetic cancer is caused not by changes in the DNA, but instead by chemical modifications. Robert Riehn (H39.00001) of North Carolina State University also studies epigenetic cancer development. He has developed nanotechnologies to map epigenetic changes on single DNA and chromatin, or pre-chromosome, strands. This approach is central to studying the variety of cells in cancer since rapid changes in epigenetic makeup, done by rare cancer stem cells, is a hallmark of cancer's progression. Liyu Liu (H39.00005) of Princeton University targets the truly fatal part of cancer: metastasis, or the invasion of cells into other areas. Her work was inspired by the "islands in the sky" of the Venezuelan Tepui, isolated mesas where it was thought that evolution has stood still. Her approach is to probe cell invasiveness using 3D microscopic imaging of silicon microchips. She has observed some remarkable collective cell behaviors, with the help of confocal microscopy, a technique using lasers to produce high resolution images.

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Contact: James Riordon
riordon@aps.org
301-209-3238
American Physical Society
Source:Eurekalert

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