The primary research objective of this grant is to advance the fundamental understanding of the different physical and mechanical properties of cells as they advance through different stages of neoplastic transformation from normal to the metastatic state. Since recent reports indicate there is significant ambiguity about how these properties change for different cancer cells, the investigators plan to measure these properties for a single line of cells, and to determine whether the changes vary for different cellular components: i.e. whether the change in physical properties is due to a change in the cytoskeleton, the cell membrane, the cytoplasm, or a combination of these elements. Measurements using a wide array of techniques from physics and cellular biology will be applied to the different cellular structures. In addition, the investigators will create a biophysical computer model that brings together all measurements to account for the observed variations in physical properties at each state of neoplastic transformation.
This work will help to establish and disseminate new protocols and techniques for determining the differences in physical properties between cancerous and noncancerous cells. A team of physicists and biologists will train graduate and undergraduate students to work in this highly interdisciplinary field. Particular emphasis will be given to the education of minorities, through the connections to the MARC U* STAR programs of NC A&T University and Winston-Salem State University.