The mechanisms of tumor formation and spreading are defined by several concurrent factors, including genetic, molecular, chemical and mechanical ones. With the genetic and molecular fields being the main source of the available data about cancer formation, development and treatment, intense research effort has recently focused on the development of new methodologies to study tumor cells mechanical properties and their correlation with the surrounding microenvironment. However, for these approaches to reach their full potential, we need a new generation of technologies better able to analyse tumor cells dynamic behavior from both biological and mechanical perspectives, since rheological properties can strongly influence the biological outcomes of complex events such as metastasis. From this point of view, optogenetic technologies represent a very promising approach to gain spatio-temporal light-mediated control over basic cellular functions through the activation and inactivation of specific proteins at sub-cellular resolution.We here describe the ultimate technologies to study cell invasiveness and mechanics, with a special hint on our approach which combines three-dimensional two-photon lithography (2PL) and optogenetics. © 2018 IEEE.
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