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Physics professor joins landmark paper from 'United Nations of Cell Modulus'

Fr. Andrew Ekpenyong, PhDA Creighton University physics professor’s latest publication is being heralded as a landmark collaboration in the field of the physics of cancer and cell mechanics.

The Rev. Andrew Ekpenyong, PhD, MS’07, is one of 22 co-authors of “A comparison of methods to assess cell mechanics properties,” published June 18 in the journal Nature Methods. The authors, leading researchers in the field of physical oncology, were selected from research groups around the world by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a cohort being called the “United Nations of Cell Modulus.”

The paper’s authorship comprises five American research groups, two groups from Germany, and a group each from France and the United Kingdom. Exploring the variances in breast cancer cell rigidity and viscosity, the paper compared measurements through atomic force microscopy, magnetic twisting cytometry, particle-tracking microrheology, parallel-plate rheometry, cell monolayer rheology and optical stretching, in hopes of coming to a better understanding of the cell’s mechanical properties and possible clinical applications.

“This was a true demonstration of how science is an international language,” said Ekpenyong, who has published extensively on cell and cancer physics. “To be able to join such an accomplished team of scholars and researchers, dedicated to finding novel solutions to the problems around the physics of cancer, was truly an honor.”

With the advantages and the time required for each measurement, the type of cells and length scales that can be probed, and the potential of each instrument to be translated for clinical use, Ekpenyong said the paper paves the way for physical oncology or cell mechanics to contribute in the clinic.

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