Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

RTG Online Colloquium talk by Dr. Aldo Leal-Egaña: Quō vādis, Artificial Cancer? Biomechanical characterization of cells cultured on 1D, 2D and in 3D polymer-based scaffolds

Institute of Molecular Systems Engineering (IMSE), Heidelberg University

Apr 15, 2021 from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM


Link to the online-meeting Link.

Cancer progression caAldo Leal-Egañan be defined by the generation of multiple phenotypes from a single malignant geno-type (i.e. tumor heterogeneity), exhibiting differences in terms viability, proliferation rate, drug sensitivity and expression of biological markers, among others.
Concerning their biomechanical characterization, even though there is an increasing number of scientific publications on the field, there are still unsolved questions regarding the study of is phenomenon in vitro, such as how could be possible to stimulate the apparition of heterogeneous populations, and when.
To achieve these challenges, during the last years our team has been focused on designing, performing and validating several polymer-based scaffolds mimicking the neoplastic milieu. In order to enrich our study, Single-Cell Traction Force Microscopy has been carried out on cells migrating on 1D (i.e. Thin guidelines), pre-cultured on 2D (i.e. Hard culture plates; Soft hydrogels) or preconditioned to 3D (i.e. Polymer-based tumor-like microcapsules; Suspended spheroids).
Furthermore, with the purpose to determine the existence of a progression trend of tumor heterogeneity in vitro, assays have been also done at different time-points, with surprising outcomes.
Among others, our results are clearly showing the apparition of different cell populations in 3D with respect to 2D milieus, exhibiting differences in size, cell-matrix adhesion forces, expression of molecular markers, number of nuclei, and in vivo extravasation capabilities.
These findings are rising new queries in cancer analytics, such as the best strategy to study cell malignancy at lab-scale (1D, 2D or 3D?), as well as when should we sample them to obtain the most reliable experi-mental results.


Dr. Leal-Egaña is a Chilean researcher, holding a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Leipzig. He has been working in different European countries (Germany, France, UK) before obtaining a DGF grant (modality “Eigene Stelle”), to combine his expertise in biomaterials and biophysics, enabling him to study cancer progression in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. Among other recognitions, during 2020 his project was selected as “TOP 25 for the Innovation Leben Award” by Bayern Innovativ. Since February 2021, Dr. Leal-Egaña works at the Institute for Molecular Systems Engineering, University of Heidelberg.

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