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Using nanotechnology, UCLA researchers discover cancer cells 'feel' much softer than normal cells
Date:12/2/2007

ft a cell is based on the resistance encountered. What the team found was that the cancer cells were much softer than the normal cells and they were similarly soft with very little variation in gradation. The normal, healthy cells from the same specimen were much stiffer than the cancer cells and, in fact, the softness values assigned to each group did not overlap at all, making diagnosis using this nanomechanical measurement easier and more accurate.

It was fascinating to find such striking characteristics between the metastatic cancer cells and normal cells, said Sarah Cross, a graduate student in the chemistry and biochemistry department and a study author. The metastatic cancer cells were extremely soft and easily distinguishable from the normal cells despite similarities in appearance. And were looking at live cells taken from human patients, so that makes this is a unique finding.

Calvin Quate of Stanford University, the co-inventor of the Atomic Force Microscope, said the UCLA study breaks new ground.

This manuscript is the first that directly shows a relationship between the nanomechanical properties and physiological function in clinical samples from patients with suspected cancer, said Quate, 1992 Medal of Science recipient.

National breast cancer expert Susan Love said the study findings open a new era for function-based tumor cell diagnostics.

With these findings, it is foreseeable that a combined biochemical, biophysical and morphological analysis for analyzing human cytological specimens using AFM may be finally realized, said Love, president and medical director of the Susan Love Research Foundation and a clinical professor of surgery at UCLA.

Researchers next will explore whether the nanomechanical analysis can be used to personalize cancer treatment based on the characteristics of a patients cancer cells. There are standard chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat metastatic cancer, Rao sa
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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