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Boston University research suggests new pathways for cancer progression
Date:2/9/2012

hy cells, and then introduced a small number of soft-shelled, mutant cancer cells. When that number reached eight, the mutants began to multiply at a much higher rate than normal cells, and the more mutants introduced, the higher the rate. Interpreting this phenomenon as the emergence of a tumor, the researchers speculated that a cluster of at least eight soft mutant cells is needed to overcome the resistance of neighboring stiff, normal cells so that the mutants can stretch and divide rapidly.

The team also modeled the strength at which cancer cells stick to one another, and varied both cell softness and stickiness in several simulations. They found that increasing softness, rather than varying stickiness, led to the most substantial increase in tumor growth.

"This study focused only on the first step in tumor growth," said Zaman. "Our next step is to set up computational experiments to determine what leads tumors to metastasize. Our computer simulations will also allow us to model breast, prostate and other cancerseven different stages within those diseasesmuch more efficiently than in laboratory experiments."

The team research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and was published in the January 11 online edition of American Physical Society's journal Physical Review Letters.


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Contact: Mike Seele
mseele@bu.edu
617-353-9766
Boston University College of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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