Cell-cell and cell-microenvironment interactions are important factors in the process of tumorigenesis and cancer progression. Emerging evidence points at the pivotal role of physical and mechanical interactions in regulating growth, proliferation, and migration. We aim at bringing together physicists and biologists to exchange knowledge on this rapidly growing field of interdisciplinary research.

Quantitative, physics-based methods are increasingly used in biology. Such methods include for instance accurate measurements of intercellular forces, cell trajectories, real-time dynamics of growing tissues, rheological properties of cell aggregates. Such data are often integrated by mathematical models that allow to bridge the gap between the microscopic knowledge about molecular interactions and the observed large-scale behavior of cells and tissues. The use of modern, physics-based methods is especially compelling for the study of cancer. While an increasing number of molecular details that stand at the basis of cancer is becoming available, their complex interplay in determining the pathology is still poorly understood. On the other hand, along with genetic and biomolecular contributions, physical forces, such as intracellular tension, adhesiveness, and elasticity, are involved in the ability of tumor cells to invade the stroma. Physical, mechanical, and biochemical cues contribute to determine the formation of polarity cues, the orientation of the cell division axis, the direction of cell migration. Such single-cell level signals integrate to give highly non trivial multicellular dynamics, such as collective migration and invasion. The interaction of tumor cells with their microenvironment may exert selective pressure at the population level and promote the emergence of malignant phenotypes. Physics-based model are required to deal with such effects and to provide new interpretative cues for the complex behavior of tumor cells and tissues. The ongoing convergence of biological and physical methods requires tight interaction and exchange of knowledge between scientists coming from different backgrounds.



Topics will include:


cell polarity in migration and development

endocytosis and trafficking

control of cell division

cell motility

tissue dynamics and morphogenesis



Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (IRCC)
Strada Provinciale 142, Km. 3.95, 10060 Candiolo (Torino), Italy. more...

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"Images on the site are courtesy of: Federica Chianale (IRCC), Letizia Lanzetti (IRCC), Stuart S. Martin (Un. of Maryland), Giorgio Seano(IRCC),
Roland Wedlich-Söldner (Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried)."