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Front Oncol. 2013 Jun 11;3:145. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00145. eCollection 2013.

Modeling the mechanics of cancer: effect of changes in cellular and extra-cellular mechanical properties.

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McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin , Austin, TX , USA.


Malignant transformation, though primarily driven by genetic mutations in cells, is also accompanied by specific changes in cellular and extra-cellular mechanical properties such as stiffness and adhesivity. As the transformed cells grow into tumors, they interact with their surroundings via physical contacts and the application of forces. These forces can lead to changes in the mechanical regulation of cell fate based on the mechanical properties of the cells and their surrounding environment. A comprehensive understanding of cancer progression requires the study of how specific changes in mechanical properties influences collective cell behavior during tumor growth and metastasis. Here we review some key results from computational models describing the effect of changes in cellular and extra-cellular mechanical properties and identify mechanistic pathways for cancer progression that can be targeted for the prediction, treatment, and prevention of cancer.


cancer modeling; cell-material interactions; cell–cell interaction; mechanical forces; review

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