The study involved growing malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers. This allowed the scientists to apply compression during the first stages of cell growth, effectively squashing the cells.
Over time, the squeezed malignant cells began to grow in a more normal and organised way.
Once the breast tissue structure was formed the cells stopped growing, even when the compressive force was removed. Non-compressed cells continued to display the haphazard and uncontrolled growth that leads to cancer.
"Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern," said Mr Venugopalan, a doctoral student. [MSN]