RPI researchers working to unlock secrets that help fight cancer

Benita Zahn & WNYT Staff
Created: January 26, 2021 02:10 PM

Mechanical engineering and biology are coming together in Troy with the potential to save lives.

"I learned of a problem where embedding cells in hydrogels of different thickness could affect how they progressed," explained Dr. Kristen Mills, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at RPI.

At the heart of that is a lesson in how cells behave.

By understanding that behavior, researchers like Dr. Mills can move toward developing treatments to beat cancer.

All the tissues in our body have different mechanical functions. For example, our skeletons are stiff to hold us up. On the other hand, lung and breast tissue need to be soft.

As Dr. Mills explains, when a solid tumor develops, its mechanical function differs from the stiffness of the tissue it's growing in.

How and why does tumor tissue grow stiffer? That's the puzzle Dr. Mills is working on.

Her work has already yielded some secrets.

Learn more about her research by watching the video of Benita Zahn's story.

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