Mechanobiology of Disease: A brilliant Morning on Day Two

It was yet another wonderful day at the Mechanobiology of Disease thematic meeting. Attendees gathered promptly, waiting for session 4 to kick off…

Chwee Teck Lim had opened the innings with his Mechanobiology of Collective Cell Migration in Health and Disease talk. Collective cell migration was characterized on well-defined geometrical constraints. These geometrical constraints were parallel fibronectin tracks of varying widths which would allow the migration of cells from a ‘pool by the side.’ Vortex like swirls of motion was observed in cells that migrated along the widest channel. This dissipated as the width of the channel decreased. Epithelial bridges were also looked at to better understand wound closure mechanisms. It was found that collective cell migration was very dependent on cell-cell adhesions and acto-myosin contractility could regulate the organisation and movement of the migrating tissues. Benign cancer cells tended to be pretty uni-directional as opposed to malignant cancer cell that seemed to lack co-ordination due to defective lamellipodial formation and intercellular adhesion. It was an interesting talk, with very nice videos of collective cell migration!

Next, Amy Rowat came on to deliver a talk on Cell Mechanotype in Cancer. It was a fascinating talk about a mechanotype screening platform that was called Parallel Microfiltration (PMF). The results showed that cells could be detected based on their status in epithelial-to mesenchymal transition and chemoresistance. This opens inroads to screen small molecules to identify compounds that have therapuetic effects. Interestingly, a highly deformable cell does not necessarily render a greater extent of invasiveness, suggesting that cell deformability is not a parameter paramount enough to predict the invasive nature of cells.

To round up session 4, on came Oliver Otto to speak about Feeling for Phenotype: Real-Time Deformability Cytometry for Label-Free Cell Functional Assays. A good strategy to study/characterize cells based on morphology was proposed. This was called real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC). It allows single-cell classification of heterogenous cell populations at rates of several 100 cells per second. This is accompanied with an image processing software that performs image acquisition, image analysis and data storage swiftly. This strategy has been successfully applied to identify subsets of blood components without having to resort to cell lysis, labelling and any extensive sample preparation. Similarly, the capability of RT-DC has been demonstrated in studies involving differentiating disease specific mechanical phenotypes in primary human hematopoietic stem cells and mature blood cells. In addition, the effect of therapy could also be assessed quickly using RT-DC. In all, it was an interesting talk about a new device that could potentially be incorporated with a cell sorter and bring diagnostics to a whole new level.

With that, Session 4 came to an end, paving way for a coffee break and more networking!







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