ARTICLE: Our research on cancer biophysics uncovers the biomechanical mechanism by which vitamin A inhibits the invasion of pancreatic cancer cells

Our latest article, published in Nature Communications. Read it here.

Pancreatic cancer is associated with advanced fibrosis, which is dense tissue that supports tumour growth, contributes to metastasis and hampers chemotherapy delivery. This fibrosis in pancreatic cancer is driven by pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), which in this disease are activated and deficient in vitamin A as opposed to their healthy counterparts that reside in normal pancreas and have abundant droplets of vitamin A storage in their cytoplasm. Activated PSCs have a robust cytoskeleton which applies forces on the surrounding to stiffen the tissue and remodel the microenvironment of the tumour to make it favourable for cancer cell invasion.

Our research shows that restoring the vitamin A levels in these cells reprograms them to a quiescent stage similar to the one observed in healthy tissues. This suppresses actomyosin contraction, mechanosensing and force-mediated matrix remodelling and stiffening, which, in turn, creates a microenvironment unfavourable for invasion by pancreatic cancer cells. The reduced invasive behaviour of cancer cells was independent of paracrine signalling between PSCs and cancer cells, and was mostly attributed to the altered biomechanical and/or topographical characteristics of the remodelled microenvironment promoted by ATRA (vitamin A precursor)treatment on PSCs.

Precision Medicines Conference, 2016: strong showing from CMBL

The latest Precision Medicianes Conference at Imperial College took place on the 14th-15th July, 2016, and was dedicated to Engineering Solutions for Cancer. The CMBL group took a large part in proceedings, providing two talks and three posters for the conference. Particular congratulations to Antonios for winning the Best Poster Award.

Invited talk: Armando del Rio Hernandez, Switching off the forces that drive pancreatic cancer

Talk: Antonios Chronopoulos, Exosonic - a microfluidic device for purification and detection of tumour exosomes for early detection of cancer

Poster presentations:

Antonios Chronopoulos, Exosonic - a microfluidic device for purification and detection of tumour exosomes for early detection of cancer, Winner - Best Poster Award

Dariusz Lachowski, Assaying the rigidity guided migration of Human Tumour Stromal Myofibroblasts (TSM) on polyacrylamide substrates mimicking healthy and fibrotic tissue transition boundary

Alistair Rice, Traction force microscopy with elastic pillars for quantification of forces during cell apoptosis

International Liver Congress 2016

Dariusz Lachowski from the CMBL group participated in The International Liver Congress in Barcelona, Spain. He was awarded with the Young Investigator bursary and his work was selected within the 5 best posters in the fibrosis category. Dariusz investigates novel biomechanical mechanisms to target liver fibrosis and cancer. 13-17th April 2016, Barcelona, Spain.

ExoSonic wins Audience Choice Award

Tyler and Antonis won the Audience Choice award at the 2016 Institute of Global Health Innovation Student Competition Dragon's Den event for their ExoSonic technology. Entries to this competition were evaluated based on technical/clinical/business innovation, potential global health impact, and plans for economic implementation and feasibility.