Final Report Summary - NANOFORCELLS (Development of a nanomechanical tool-box for the investigation of cell mechanics)
The core of the project has been the development of technologies and related instrumentation able to study cell mechanics and dynamics. NANOFORCELLS output has been a nanomechanical cell laboratory; a set of tools able to address the recent questions around cell mechanical properties and relations with disease. We have researched cell mechanics through the combination of advanced nanomechanical systems, optical interferometry and AFM local characterization. DHM (Digital Holographic Microscopy) has been applied to follow cell wall fluctuations and track biophysical variations among diverse cell lines. We have also demonstrated that Atomic Peak-Force Microscopy can serve to track the mechanical properties of sub-cellular structures. We have proven the cytoskeleton actin mechanics can be tracked with high lateral resolution at the nanometer scale. The third technology, nanomechanical resonators has proven that it can follow with high accuracy single cell mass and single cell elasticity. The three techniques have converged towards the identification of cell elasticity as a relevant biomarker of the cell health status. We have studied cell lines representative of breast cancer at different degrees of malignancy and understood the contribution of sub-cellular structures to the cell membrane elasticity.