Mechanical tension and stresses are considered key factors associated to the control of the growth and proliferation of tumoral cells and tissues. Monitoring of such stresses would help to better understand cancer progression and also to test the effectiveness of anticancer drugs aiming to restore normal tissue mechanics. However, there is no current system available for monitoring the cellular mechanical properties, particularly for small tissue biopsies like those obtained with core needles.
The overall goal of the StretchBio project is the design, development, fabrication and proof of application of an advanced label-free and compact nanosystem for the continuous monitoring and quantification of mechanical stresses in ex vivo fresh tissue biopsies. This nanodevice will allow testing the changes of these tissues upon their treatment with anticancer drugs for improved drug screening. The basic principle of StretchBio is a two-dimensional force sensor based on an array of nanopillars, constituting a photonic crystal, in which the bending of one or more nanopillars, caused by the mechanical forces exerted by the living tissue, will give rise to a change in the transmitted light through the photonic crystal. The design and fabrication of this compact nanosystem needs to be addressed in concomitance with liquid cell culture media, which will constitute the interpillar medium, and with the fact that the ex vivo fresh biopsy needs to be placed on top of the nanopillars.
The proposed approach will be an enormous leap in the study of tissue growth and of drug screening in solid tumours whose progression is markedly contributed by tissue stiffening. This represents an innovative approach to personalized medicine, allowing the development of ad-hoc treatments.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeRIA - Research and Innovation action