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µBONE - „Characterization of the impact of bone-seeking tumors on the osteocyte network and the osteocyte-mediated regulation of bone turnover”

Cancer is not only a potentially incurable disease, but also exposes affected individuals to a long and challenging physical and psychological recovery. When cancer invades bone, the likelihood of a favorable prognosis and quality of life for patients is drastically reduced. µBONE is a DFG-sponsored German consortium of cancer and bone scientists working to study the initial colonization of bone by tumor cells and the early interaction with bone cells. The µBONE research alliance seeks to minimize, control or treat early bone metastases that follow breast or prostate cancer. Part of the µBONE consortium consists of a research team: Dresden University of Technology (Martina Rauner), University of Hamburg (Björn Busse), Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Kay Raum). Our team is investigating the role of osteocytes, which are the most abundant bone cell type in the spread of cancer metastases.

Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques (B. Busse and K. Raum), the metastasis-induced pathological changes of the bone structure and its cellular osteocyte network are analyzed. This will be achieved first by studying genetically modified mouse models with impaired bone metabolism (M. Rauner) and later by bone biopsies from individuals with cancer (B. Busse).

Based on the previously established fact that shear force exerted on osteocytes inhibits cancer invasion, the team at Charité (K. Raum and R. Puts) is also investigating whether the mechanical stress induced by low intensity focused pulsed ultrasound stimulation (FLIPUS). This non-invasive technology, currently used to enhance bone regeneration, may enhance the intrinsic self-defense mechanisms of osteocytes against cancer metastases.

Project members:

  • Dr. Regina Puts
  • B.Sc. Aseel Khaffaf

Project Funding:

  • DFG SPP 2084 "µBONE: Kolonisierung und Interaktionen von Tumorzellen innerhalb des Knochenmilieus"