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Stanford study reveals a unique mode of cell migration on soft ‘viscoelastic’ surfaces

Kolade Adebowale, left, and Ovijit Chaudhuri, right.
Image credit: Wesley Ford/Rod Searcey
Apr 19 2021
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Inside your body, cell movement plays a crucial role in many significant biological processes, including wound healing, immune responses and the potential spread of cancer.

“Most people don’t die from having a primary tumor,” said Kolade Adebowale, a graduate student in chemical engineering, and a member of the Chemical Biology Interface (CBI) graduate program in Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health (ChEM-H) at Stanford University. “The problem is when cancer cells from the tumor acquire the ability to metastasize or move to different parts of the body.”

As an attempt to advance studies of cell migration, Adebowale and colleagues in the lab of Ovijit Chaudhuri, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, have worked to develop and test new types of material that closely imitate the real tissue that surrounds cells. New findings built on this work, published April 19 in Nature Materials, upend the “textbook” view of cell migration and bring better insight into the impact of a material’s elastic and viscous properties on cells.

Study co-authors Kolade Adebowale, is a 2015 EDGE Fellow, and Katrina Wisdom, is a 2016 DARE Fellow.

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