Breast Cancer Awareness: How 3D Disease Models and Mechanical Biomarkers are Paving the Way


A pink ribbon symbolizing breast cancer awareness, intertwined with 3D disease models and mechanical biomarkers graphics.

October is more than just pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween costumes. It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the world comes together to spread awareness about a disease that affects millions. But beyond the pink ribbons and fundraisers, there’s cutting-edge research happening that’s changing the game in breast cancer treatment. Enter the world of 3D disease models and mechanical biomarkers.

First, let’s get some facts straight.

  • According to the World Health Organization 1, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women globally.
  • It impacts 2.1 million women annually.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Men can also get breast cancer, although it’s rare.
  • Early detection is vital for increasing the chances of successful treatment and survival.

Now, onto the groundbreaking stuff. Traditional 2D cell cultures have been the norm in cancer research for decades. But they have their limitations. They don’t always accurately represent how cells behave in the human body. That’s where 3D disease models come in. These models, often called “organoids,” mimic the structure and function of organs, providing a more accurate representation of how cancer cells grow and spread.

Pratt et al.2 emphasized the significance of 3D models in analyzing the mechanical attributes of tumors, such as stiffness, which impact cancer cell movement. Yu et al.3 explored mechanical biomarkers and physical cell properties aiding in disease diagnosis and treatment, especially in determining breast cancer tumor aggressiveness. Baker et al.4 discussed how mechanical forces influence cancer progression, presenting new treatment avenues. Riehl et al.5 highlighted the predictive power of mechanical biomarkers for chemotherapy responses, enabling personalized treatments. Toca-Herrera et al.’s6 study on 3D bioprinting accurately portrays tumor behavior, accelerating drug research.

So, what does all this mean for the future of breast cancer treatment? While the science might seem complex, the message is clear: hope is on the horizon. Hope for more effective treatments, better outcomes, and a world where breast cancer is a thing of the past.

But for now, as we don our pink ribbons and support the fighters and survivors in our lives, let’s also celebrate the researchers and scientists who are working tirelessly to find a cure. The combined efforts of researchers worldwide are leading to breakthroughs that could change the face of breast cancer treatment.

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References

1. World Health Organization. (2023, July 12). Breast cancer. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/breast-cancer
2. Pratt, S. J. P., Lee, R. M., & Martin, S. S. (2020). The Mechanical Microenvironment in Breast Cancer. Cancers (Basel). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352870/
3. Yu, W., Sharma, S., & Rao, J. (2021). Cancer cell mechanobiology: a new frontier for cancer research. Journal of the National Cancer Center. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667005421000727
4. Baker, Aaron B. (2021). Biomechanical regulation of breast cancer metastasis and progression. Scientific Reports. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-89288-z
5. Riehl, B. D., Kim, E., Bouzid, T., & Lim, J. Y. (2020). The Role of Microenvironmental Cues and Mechanical Loading Milieus in Breast Cancer Cell Progression and Metastasis. Frontiers. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2020.608526/full
6. Toca-Herrera, J. L. (2023). Characterization of Breast Cancer Aggressiveness by Cell Mechanics. MDPI. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/24/15/12208
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