Markus Wehland

The Fight against Cancer by Microgravity: The Multicellular Spheroid as a Metastasis Model

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


  • Daniela Grimm
  • Herbert Schulz, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Marcus Krüger, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • José Luis Cortés-Sánchez, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Marcel Egli, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • ,
  • Armin Kraus, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Jayashree Sahana
  • Thomas J. Corydon
  • Ruth Hemmersbach, German Aerospace Center
  • ,
  • Petra M. Wise, University of Southern California
  • ,
  • Manfred Infanger, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Markus Wehland

Cancer is a disease exhibiting uncontrollable cell growth and spreading to other parts of the organism. It is a heavy, worldwide burden for mankind with high morbidity and mortality. Therefore, groundbreaking research and innovations are necessary. Research in space under microgravity (µg) conditions is a novel approach with the potential to fight cancer and develop future cancer therapies. Space travel is accompanied by adverse effects on our health, and there is a need to counteract these health problems. On the cellular level, studies have shown that real (r-) and simulated (s-) µg impact survival, apoptosis, proliferation, migration, and adhesion as well as the cytoskeleton, the extracellular matrix, focal adhesion, and growth factors in cancer cells. Moreover, the µg-environment induces in vitro 3D tumor models (multicellular spheroids and organoids) with a high potential for preclinical drug targeting, cancer drug development, and studying the processes of cancer progression and metastasis on a molecular level. This review focuses on the effects of r-and s-µg on different types of cells deriving from thyroid, breast, lung, skin, and prostate cancer, as well as tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, we summarize the current knowledge of the impact of µg on cancerous stem cells. The information demonstrates that µg has become an important new technology for increasing current knowledge of cancer biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3073
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Deutsches Zentrum f?r Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), BMWi projects 50WB1524 and 50WB1924 (D.G.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • Breast cancer, Cancer stem cells, Clinostat, Colorectal cancer, Liver cancer, Microgravity, Multicellular spheroids, Omics studies, Organoids, Prostate cancer, Random positioning machine, Rotating wall vessel, Spaceflight, Thyroid cancer

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