Tumor mechanobiology is an unresolved aspect of cancer progression. How the mechanical properties of cells evolve from a healthy stage to malignancy and manifest themselves in tissue has been documented and is well described in the literature but remains only poorly understood.
Here, healthy ductal epithelium cells and benign lesions can be seen in the lower part and background area of the picture. In the central part, the nanomechanical characteristics of a malignous cancer cell is analysed with the tip of an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). While a cell usually expresses numerous microvilli on its surface, invasively growing and thus more aggressive (malignant) tumor cells possess less microvilli and can be detected with AFM due to their soft stiffness profile. Detecting malignant cancer cells according to their nanomechanical properties could greatly facilitate and improve the diagnosis and treatment of e.g. breast cancer in the future.