Biomineralization Pathways

We study the chemical conditions and the extent of cellular control leading to pathological biomineralization processes, as well as the mineral-microenvironment interactions and their relation to disease progression

Mineralization mechanisms of breast cancer microcalcifications

Calcium phosphate crystals that form in the breast are associated with cancer, and breast cancers with calcifications have worse prognosis than lesions without calcifications.

Although routinely used for breast cancer screening through mammography, it is not known whether microcalcifications precipitate as a result of cancer progression, or whether their presence promotes malignancy.
To gain mechanistic understanding of the mineralization pathway, our lab studies 3D cell culture tumor models that form mineral particles similar to microcalcifications, as well as clinical samples (a collaboration with Soroka University Medical Center).

Mineral-microenvironment interactions

The composition, structure and properties of physiologically-forming biominerals like bones and teeth are associated with their function. In pathological phenomena, where there is no known function to the minerals, the mineral characteristics may be associated with its interactions with the surrounding tissue and possibly with disease progression.
We study the connection between mineral formation and the interactions of pathological calcifications with the surrounding cells and extracellular matrix.


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Cryo-SEM of mineral-containing precancerous breast tissue. Blue= cell nuclei, Red= lipid droplets