In 2009 the National Cancer Institute established 12 new centers in their PS-OC (Physical Sciences and Oncology Centers) program devoted to applying insights from the physical sciences to the problem of cancer. At Arizona State University, the Center for the Convergence of Physical Sciences and Cancer Biology received a 5 year grant to study cancer as a physical entity. The Center studied issues such as
- How do cancer cells behave as physical objects?
- How do the physical properties of cells change as a function of cancer progression?
- Can cancer provide insights into the nature of life in general?
- How do cancer cells relate to cells in their surrounding environment?
- Can we find new ways of controlling cancer based on the forces in their microenvironment?
- Does quantum mechanics play a role in cancer?
- Can cancer biologists learn anything from astrobiology?