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Roger T. Bonnecaze and Parag Katira
Cancer Research at UT: A solid foundation for a medical school

Researchers suggest proximate cause of cancer

Sometimes, you have to approach a problem from a different angle.

That’s what researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are doing as they explore a novel approach to understanding cancer growth —one that could lead to new ways of predicting, treating and preventing the disease.

Postdoctoral student Parag Katira and his adviser, Roger T. Bonnecaze, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, found that mechanical property changes in cells cause rapid growth of cancerous tumors.

Using a 3-D cancer model, they learned that the softening of cells and changes in cell binding can lead to cancerous behavior. Whether cancer is caused by environmental or genetic factors, the unhealthy cells appear to have a similar physical makeup.

“We’re very excited about these results because they point to a unified understanding of cancer progression,”Bonnecaze said. “This understanding opens up new avenues for attacking cancer.”

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