CLAUDIA FISCHBACH-TESCHL: The word "collaboration," to me, really is something that's essential for research.
LEWIS CANTLEY: Collaboration is absolutely essential for success in science, particularly for science that's as complicated as cancer. No one person has expertise to understand all the tools, all the technologies.
We need to have experts in many different fields work together in order to be successful, bringing them together and letting them teach each other and develop completely new approaches to solving cancer. It's a chance to dramatically accelerate the progress of research. That's what the future is. That's what we're excited about.
My name is Lewis Cantley, and I'm Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Cancer is incredibly complicated. Virtually no two people have exactly the same cancer. There are thousands of genes that can be mutated.
For decades, cancer research has relied upon cancer cell lines. These are cells grown on plastic that don't represent the true cancer. Now however, we can actually grow the tumors outside the patient as an organoid that very much mimics the true tumor growing in all of its heterogeneity. Our goal at this point is to understand the very early steps in metastasis and how we can prevent them with drugs.
CLAUDIA FISCHBACH-TESCHL: My name is Claudia Fischbach-Teschl. I'm an associate professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell and I'm the director of the new Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism. For us to really run meaningful experiments, we need to capture the heterogeneity that is representative of the patient.
Weill Cornell is providing us with patient derived cells in the form of organoids, and then we place them into our model systems, culture models, including microfluidics devices that we're fabricating here at the Center for Nanoscale Fabrication.
So now you can imagine putting an organoid into engineered environments that allow us to mimic what's more representative of the body of a normal patient.
In a Petri dish, you have a soup in which the cells are based, and they're always exposed to the same molecules. There's no temporal difference. And here in these microfluidics devices, we can pattern channels into three dimensional cultures and now look at how tumor cells interact with blood vessels and how we can use them to deliver drugs and test how they're being distributed, and this is something that cannot be done without three dimensional culture devices.
LEWIS CANTLEY: The goal is to identify drugs or drug combinations that are already approved, that we can identify the patients that will respond to that drug or drug combination and initiate a trial to prove that it actually works.
Pharmaceutical companies don't have access to these fresh biopsies of metastatic patients. We do. We are seeing a time in cancer that's really the tipping point that's going to change the whole process of therapy and have a huge impact in the disease. I'm very excited about the future.
CLAUDIA FISCHBACH-TESCHL: The future is extremely exciting in many ways, and I think cancer research is having another revolution. In the end, all we care about is to improve patient's lives and increase the chance for them to be treated more successfully. I'm super excited because we get to work together and we're going to do great things together.
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Finding new ways to study cancer and how it spreads is the goal of the Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism, a new translational research program that taps into expertise at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine, with investigators at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of California, San Francisco.