Cell-Extracellular Matrix Interactions Imaging

The understanding of cancer has evolved rapidly over the last decade, particularly with discoveries regarding the role of physical factors, such as extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness and cellular forces, in carcinogenesis.

Steven Adie, Biomedical Engineering, is developing a novel platform for volumetric time-lapse imaging of cellular forces and cell-induced changes in ECM mechanical properties during single and collective cancer cell migration.

Current imaging methods to quantify ECM mechanical properties and local cellular forces only provide two-dimensional imaging. When they do support three-dimensional imaging, they do not provide long-range volumetric measurements of collective mechanical behavior with cellular resolution. Adie is developing quantitative reconstruction capabilities for volumetric imaging of cell traction forces and ECM mechanical properties with optical coherence tomography.

These new quantitative capabilities are being integrated with a fluorescence confocal microscopy module to demonstrate a novel imaging platform. This new platform has unprecedented capabilities for time-lapse imaging studies of biophysical cell-ECM interactions in three-dimensional environments.

The novel three-dimensional imaging platform for systems mechanobiology research is helping lead to a deeper understanding of potential biophysical (mechanical) hallmarks of cancer. It can be used in the future to design and test new mechano-therapies that target or modulate the biophysical interactions between cells and the ECM.

NIH Award Number: 1R01GM132823-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$1.56 Million spanning 4 years