Teaming up to unravel mechanosensing

These last weeks the group of Aránzazu del Campo at the Institute for New Materials (INM) in Saarbrücken has been host to another Mechano·Control member: Laura Faure, a postdoc from Pere Roca-Cusachs group at IBEC. Aleeza Farrukh, a Research Scientist at Dynamic Biomaterials group, has shared with Laura some advanced patterning techniques that she will implement in her assays. By combining single-cell traction force measurements and advanced patterning, researchers will try to decipher the role of cell-cell and cell-matrix forces during tumour growth and spreading.

In order to unravel the relationship between stiffness and tumour spreading, researchers need to look first at how cancer cells interact with their surrounding cells and tissue. With this idea in mind, IBEC and INM Mechano·Control members have joined efforts to merge their expertise into an advanced assay combining single-cell Traction Force Microscopy and 3D gel-patterning. “If we succeed, we will be able to quantify the impact of tissue stiffness on cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions at the single-cell level”, Laura says. “To date, we don’t really know which forces trigger tumour spreading”, Aleeza adds. “This assay will help us understand the impact of rigidity changes in tumour growth and spreading in much more detail”. This is the third time that IBEC and INM teams meet to share skills and ideas within the project’s framework.

As part of Mechano·Control consortium strategy, partners have been sharing their know-how at all stages and scales of the project. Utrecht Research team has received several visits: from J Zanetta Zoi Kechagia, who spent 2 weeks working with organoids at their lab, to the visit of Noviocell sharing some samples with UMCU team. Also Johan De Rooij (UMCU) has been visiting del Campo (INM) in Saarbrücken and Mind the Byte has been working on its first drug candidate in tight interplay with De Rooij (UMCU) and Xavier Trepat (IBEC). Furthermore, Sergi Garcia-Manyes, head of Biological Physics & Soft Matter Group at King’s College London, has incorporated Amy Beedle, a postdoc holding a trans fellowship to visit several of the partners’ labs during her stay.

The next consortium meeting is to be celebrated in November the 16th, when all Mechano·Control partners will meet at Utrecht to discuss the project advances and the near future guidelines.