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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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December 21, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


While the traditional view of cancer development focuses on the genetic
mutations within the cell, pioneering research shows that a malignant cell
is not doomed to become a tumor, but is dependent on its interaction
with the surrounding microenvironment.




WHO Child Growth Charts

       

Compression Restores Normal Growth in Malignant Breast Cancer Cells

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have put the squeeze — literally — on malignant mammary cells to guide them back into a normal growth pattern

The findings, presented Monday, Dec. 17, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco, show for the first time that mechanical forces alone can revert and stop the out-of-control growth of cancer cells. This change happens even though the genetic mutations responsible for malignancy remain, setting up a nature-versus-nurture battle in determining a cell's fate.

"We are showing that tissue organization is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development," said principal investigator Daniel Fletcher, professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley and faculty scientist at the Berkeley Lab. "An early signal, in the form of compression, appears to get these malignant cells back on the right track."


Throughout a woman's life, breast tissue grows,
shrinks and shifts in a highly organized way in
response to changes in her reproductive cycle.

For instance, when forming acini, the berry-shaped
structures that secrete milk during lactation,
healthy breast cells rotate as they form an organized
structure. And, importantly, the cells stop growing
when they are supposed to.


One of the early hallmarks of breast cancer is the breakdown of this normal growth pattern. Not only do cancer cells continue to grow irregularly when they shouldn't, recent studies have shown that they do not rotate coherently when forming acini.


While the traditional view of cancer development
focuses on the genetic mutations within the cell,
Mina Bissell, Distinguished Scientist at the Berkeley
Lab, conducted pioneering experiments showing a
malignant cell is not doomed to become a tumor,
but that its fate is dependent on its interaction with
the surrounding microenvironment.

Her experiments showed that manipulation of this
environment, through the introduction of biochemical
inhibitors, could tame mutated mammary cells
into behaving normally.


The latest work from Fletcher's lab, in collaboration with Bissell's lab, takes a major step forward by introducing the concept of mechanical rather than chemical influences on cancer cell growth. Gautham Venugopalan, a member of Fletcher's lab, conducted the new experiments as part of his recently completed Ph.D. dissertation at UC Berkeley.


"People have known for centuries that physical force
can influence our bodies. When we lift weights, our
muscles get bigger. The force of gravity is essential
to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that
physical force can play a role in the growth —
and reversion — of cancer cells."

Gautham Venugopalan, Ph.D
member Daniel Fletcher's lab
University of California, Berkeley


Venugopalan and collaborators grew malignant breast epithelial cells in a gelatin-like substance that had been injected into flexible silicone chambers. The flexible chambers allowed the researchers to apply a compressive force in the first stages of cell development.

Over time, the compressed malignant cells grew into more organized, healthy-looking acini that resembled normal structures, compared with malignant cells that were not compressed. The researchers used time-lapse microscopy over several days to show that early compression also induced coherent rotation in the malignant cells, a characteristic feature of normal development.

Notably, those cells stopped growing once the breast tissue structure was formed, even though the compressive force had been removed.

"Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back into a healthy growth pattern," said Venugopalan.

Researchers further added a drug that blocked E-cadherin, a protein that helps cells adhere to their neighbors. When they did this, the malignant cells returned to their disorganized, cancerous appearance, negating the effects of compression and demonstrating the importance of cell-to-cell communication in organized structure formation.


It should be noted that the researchers are not
proposing development of compression bras
as a treatment for breast cancer.

"Compression, in and of itself, is not likely
to be a therapy," said Fletcher. "But this does
give us new clues to track down the molecules
and structures that could eventually
be targeted for therapies."


The National Institutes of Health helped fund this research through its Physical Science-Oncology program.

Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/uoc--trb121212.php