The beads are displaced by the pulling of migrating breast cancer cells embedded in the matrix. An important part of the puzzle was to calculate the force exerted by the cells using the displacement of the beads.
The group’s paper, “Fibrous nonlinear elasticity enables positive mechanical feedback between cells and extracellular matrices,” published online Nov. 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The question arose from cancer metastasis, because if the cells don’t move around, it’s a benign tumor and generally not life-threatening.” This increased stiffening also increases cell force transmission distance, which can potentially promote metastasis of cancer cells. Explore further: Cancer cell collaborators smooth the way for cancer cells to metastasize.
More information: Matthew S. Hall et al, Fibrous nonlinear elasticity enables positive mechanical feedback between cells and ECMs, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.