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Laser beams can determine the strength of cancer cells

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Biophysicists at the University of Leipzig are cancer cells to leaser beams to investigate their strength. 
When Claudia Mierke started to study cancer cells, she decided to do so from a different angle: by applying physics to medical biology. 

The biophysicist’s at the University are trying to determine whether a cancer cell will metastasise by studying its physical properties,a discovery that could guide diagnostics and therapy decisions.

It was later discovered that invasive cancer cells, which are very aggressive, can decrease the stiffness of blood vessel cells. “That may explain how they migrate in the body.”

The study investigates the process of cancer metastasis and how it is connected to the mechanical properties of cancer cells.  The mechanics of single cells are measured by putting the cells in suspension and trapping them in two laser beams.

Increasing the laser power stretches the cells, which provides information on the cell’s invasiveness: highly deformable cells don’t invade as numerously and deeply as stiffer ones. Only breast-cancer and lung-cancer cells have been tested in the study. “After surgery, if we know the cancer cells that are left are not aggressive, it could prevent radiation therapy,” Mierke says.


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