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BNU Prof. Li Hui’s research on tumor metastasis published on PNAS

Tumor metastasis is a main cause of cancer-related deaths. Basement membranes (BMs) are thin layers of extracellular matrix ubiquitously found in animals surrounding various tissues. As a physical barrier, their mechanical properties are important in maintaining structural integrity of tissues, and their permeabilities are essential for molecule exchange and internal cell activities. However, due to the lack of direct measurement methods, the physical properties of BMs remain largely unclear, limiting our understanding of BMs in various physiological and pathological processes such as tumor development. Researchers perform pressure-controlled inflation and deflation to directly measure the nonlinear mechanics of BMs in situ. They have revealed for the first time a nonlinear strain-stiffening effect of intact BM, which is essential for preventing its snap-through instability.

Professor Li Hui of the School of Systems Science, BNU, worked closely with Professor Guo Ming and postdoctoral researcher Han Yulong of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Professor Cai Shengqiang, and Ph.D. Zheng Yue of the University of California, San Diego. Their outcome Nonlinear elasticity of biological basement membrane revealed by rapid inflation and deflation has published on Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) on March 16, 2021.

Science news websites such as EurekAlert!, MIT News and ScienceDaily reported the outcome with the title Membrane around tumors may be key to preventing metastasis, and commented that it has opened a new route toward preventing tumor metastasis.