Alexandre Ortega

Development of acoustic techniques to study the biophysical properties of cell clusters

Team: Claire Valotteau (Inserm) - Emilie Franceschini (LMA)

His background

October 2022 - present | CENTURI PhD student

2020 - 2022 | Master of Fundamental physics - Aix-Marseille University (France)

2018 - 2019 | BSc 3 in Physics and Modelling, Aix-Marseille University (France)

2016 - 2018 | BSc 1 & 2 in Physics, Limoges University (France)

About his PhD project

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that leave the primary tumor, enter the bloodstream and finally spread into another tissue. Some of them travel as clusters and have a higher metastatic potential in comparison to single cell. In the bloodstream, these clusters are subjected to high shear rates, they are able to reversibly reorganize and squeeze to travel through narrow capillaries. Nevertheless, their biophysical properties are poorly known, and the adhesion and deformability of CTC clusters have neither been quantified. The project will focus on the development of acoustic force spectroscopy (AFS), an emerging technique that use acoustic forces in a microfluidic channel containing suspended cells to probe several cells in parallel (contrary to other methods that provide limited statistics on single cells). The aim of the project is to extend this technique to CTC clusters, in order to unveil their rheology (Young modulus, adhesion, yield-stress) and predict their behavior in complex hydrodynamic environments.