NDnano Faculty Networking Lunch

This is the monthly networking meeting for faculty affiliated with NDnano. New faculty are welcome! For more information on affiliating with the Center, please contact Heidi Deethardt at

Presenter: Meenal Datta, Assistant Professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Title: “Abnormal mechanics in brain tumors: Implications for immunotherapy”

Abstract: Patients suffering from glioblastoma – the deadliest primary brain tumor in adults – have a dismal survival of less than 2 years despite aggressive available treatments. Immunotherapy, which has revolutionized the treatment of other solid tumors, fails to benefit the majority of glioblastoma patients. The tumor microenvironment may be largely responsible for this poor response, as it harbors mechanopathologies that drive disease progression and treatment resistance. One such mechanical abnormality is “solid stress” – a physical force originating from cells and extracellular matrix – that can compress blood vessels, induce hypoxia and immunosuppression, and hinder immunotherapy delivery and efficacy. Confined and compounded within the rigid skull, solid stress from brain tumors like glioblastoma can also cause debilitating neurological dysfunction. Here, I will present findings from patients and mouse models of glioblastoma that show how solid stress: i) can be measured and/or applied in vivo, ii) can damage the healthy brain tissue surrounding the tumor, and iii) can be targeted to restore neurological function and overcome resistance to immunotherapy. Finally, I will discuss our ongoing efforts to understand and overcome abnormal “mechano-immunology” at multiple scales in a variety of cancers in the Tumor Immune Microenvironment and Mechanics Laboratory.