Archive for the ‘Research Highlights’ Category

MMB Lab selects their top cancer-related articles

Microtechnology, Medicine and Biology Lab

The Microtechnology, Medicine and Biology Lab (MMB Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) is interested in applying the lab’s technologies to cancer.

Led by David J. Beebe, Editorial Board member for Integrative Biology, the team works across disciplines and disease boundaries to create solutions that can be translated into widespread use.

The lab has selected their top cancer-related articles published recently in Integrative Biology. Please see below what they say about each article – all free to access for the next 4 weeks!*


1) Human breast cancer invasion and aggression correlates with ECM stiffening and immune cell infiltration
I. Acerbi, L. Cassereau, I. Dean, Q. Shi, A. Au, C. Park, Y. Y. Chen, J. Liphardt, E. S. Hwang and V. M. Weaver

Mary Regier- This paper supports other articles pointing out the importance of microenvironmental factors including cell-cell interactions, cell-matrix interactions, and matrix mechanics and architecture and their intratumoral heterogeneity in breast cancer behavior and patient prognosis. Our selection highlights the variety of microenvironmental factors that influence cancer progression and spread.


2) Marker-free detection of progenitor cell differentiation by analysis of Brownian motion in micro-wells
F. Sekhavati, M. Endele, S. Rappl, A.-K. Marel, T. Schroeder and J. O. Rädler

Patrick Ingram- In this paper, the authors present a marker-free, high throughput, and single cell compatible method to monitor granulocyte-macrophage progenitor differentiation via the changes in Brownian motion as the cells differentiate into adherent macrophages. Though not investigated directly, these same methods can be further applied to monitor molecular binding events in living cells, allowing the high throughput study of membranes and surface receptors in heterogeneous cancer cell populations. Sekhavati et al. provide a compelling proof-of-concept that uses ubiquitous and accessible physics to readout underlying biological processes.


3) A cell-ECM screening method to predict breast cancer metastasis
L. E. Barnery, E. C. Dandley, L. E. Jansen, N. G. Reich, A. M. Mercurio and S. R. Peyton

José A. Jiménez-Torres- In this paper, the authors presented an in vitro biomaterial system to investigate the role of cancer-cell integrin binding to different ECM matrices inspired by in vivo secondary tissue targets of breast cancer metastasis. Their experiments highlight the heterogeneity of breast cancer and how this is an obstacle in the clinical success of integrin-targeted therapeutics.


4) Quantitative multivariate analysis of dynamic multicellular morphogenic trajectories
D. E. White, J. B. Sylvester, T. J. Levario, H. Lu, J. T. Streelman, T. C. McDevitt and M. L. Kemp

Brian Johnson- An interesting paper tackling a challenge problem; White et al. explore multi-cellular interactions in morphological development using a network analysis approach that enables the quantitative comparison of experimental data to computational modelling simulations. While the technique was applied to characterize emergent spatial phenotypic patterns found in developing tissues, these same principles could be used to tease apart and model the extensive spatial heterogeneity found in the tumour microenvironment of patient derived samples.



We hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as we did.

Integrative Biology publishes novel insights into biological questions, which have been achieved through the use of new technologies, techniques and methods. If your research scope fits that of the articles above, we would be very interested to hear more.

Please email us today, read more about our scope, or submit your article via our online submission portal.


*Access is free until 20/03/2016 through a registered RSC account
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Cell culture insights

Christopher Moraes

New Integrative Biology highlights editor Christopher Moraes from the University of McGill reflects upon recent innovations in the design of microfluidics cell culture platforms that provide new insights into biological processes. This first research highlight is available online now!

Microengineered cell culture systems can recreate physiologically realistic environments allowing scientists to make accurate predictions with regards to cellular responses to potential therapeutic compounds. Being so miniature microfluidic technologies do however limit the amount of biological material available for analysis at the end-point of a reaction. This is where optical imaging becomes a great tool enabling us to study cell function in these miniaturised systems. The materials used in silicone-based microfluidic systems are transparent to visible light and therefore easily adapted to imaging.

Christopher discusses recent advances in super-resolution imaging which have made it possible to observe sub-100 nm scale structures and its integration with microfabricated systems. Once combined, these two technologies will provide unique insight into the special molecular dynamics underlying biological processes and significantly enhance our ability to understand cellular processes under defined, realistic microenvironmental conditions.

Lattice light-sheet microscopy enables high-spatial and high-temporal of sub-cellular structure.

In these example images, a cell is shown migrating though a collagen matrix.

Finally, Christopher highlights the critical roles that optofluidic technologies could play in the future.

The full research highlight ‘Micro, soft, windows: integrating super-resolution viewing capabilities into soft lithographic devices’ can be downloaded for free* on our website. We hope you enjoy reading his summary of recent advances in this new and exciting concept of chip integration.

Don’t miss Christopher’s next Research Highlight article – register for our e-alerts now!

*Access is free through a publishing personal account. It’s quick, easy and free to register.

More about Christopher Moraes

Christopher earned his PhD in mechanical and biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto before holding a Banting/NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Biointerfaces Institute. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, Christopher’s main interests lie within the development of microengineered tools to probe disease. In 2012 he was awarded the NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize for his research combining biology and engineering to create realistic cell culture environments for drug testing. Christopher has also been awarded the Leyerle-CIFAR prize for interdisciplinary research.

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