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Tissue physics plays a key role in tumor growth

Tuesday, 9 November 2021
New research shows how tissue physics helps the RAS gene to drive early tumor development.

Cancer is a difficult disease to treat and to study, and can be caused by a range of genetic mutations. For instance, the mutated RAS gene causes a loss of structure in so-called epithelial tissue, a tissue type that lines the outside of organs. To better understand this process, researchers at TU/e along with colleagues from IBEC in Spain and UCL in UK have studied how the RAS gene leads to tumor growth in 2D layers of epithelial cells. Results indicate that tissue physics play a key role in tumor growth, suggesting that mechano-therapies might help to combat tumors in future treatments.

Cancer is a complex family of over 200 distinct diseases, with many typically caused by a mutated gene known an oncogene.

One example is the RAS oncogene, which is mutated in around 30% of human cancers, and is known to cause the loss of structure in epithelia tissue, a type of tissue that you’ll find covering any part of the body exposed to the outside world as well as lining the outside of organs.

In fact, it is epithelia tissue that produce the most aggressive forms of cancers: carcinomas. Recent evidence suggest that tissue physics plays a leading role in changing the structure of epithelia tissue once the RAS oncogene is activated.