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Role of cell mechanics in tumour metastases formation (ROLECELLMEC)
Start date: Sep 1, 2007, End date: Aug 31, 2008 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The proposed project is a continuation of the current Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship project. In the project the role of cellular mechanics in the formation of cancer metastases will be studied. Metastasis, the formation of secondary tumours, is the most feared and least understood aspect of cancer.Regarding the commonness of metastases formation, a detailed view on the process of metastases formation reports a very complicated cascade of processes. For a cancer cell to metastasize, it must first detach from the parent tumour. Then, cancer cells have to penetrate tissues that provide only micrometer large holes for cells to penetrate.Usually, these cavities in tissues are much smaller than the size of a single cancer cell. Thus, cells have to deform strongly which may only be explained if these cells adapt their mechanical properties for tissue penetration. Numerous processes in the cells, like mitosis, intracellular traffic of organelles are mediated by cell mechanics, more closely by the cytoskeleton.We have demonstrated that the naturally occurring sphingosylphosphorylcholine (SPC), which occurs more abundantly in metastasized cancer cells and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) modify the cytoskeleton, thus the mechanical properties of the cells. In the proposed project we will further study the mechanical properties of cells extending the selection of biochemical treatment, not only on fixed and stained cells, but also on living, fluorescently transfected cell lineages.We want to analyse quantitatively the contribution of the various cytoskeleton filaments to the mechanical properties of the cells and draw clinical consequences regarding the formation of metastases from cancer tissues. We are aiming to a truly interdisciplinary research project which involves biochemistry (bioactive lipids), biophysics (imaging and mechanical measurements) and medicine (clinical relevance).

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