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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Breast cancer is a leading cause of global cancer‐related deaths, and metastasis is the overwhelming culprit of poor patient prognosis. The most nefarious aspect of metastasis is dormancy, a prolonged period between primary tumor resection and relapse. Current therapies are insufficient at killing dormant cells; thus, they can remain quiescent in the body for decades until eventually undergoing a phenotypic switch, resulting in metastases that are more adaptable and drug resistant. Unfortunately, dormancy has few in vitro models, largely because lab‐derived cell lines are highly proliferative. Existing models address tumor dormancy, not cellular dormancy, because tracking individual cells is technically challenging. To combat this problem, a live cell lineage approach to find and track individual dormant cells, distinguishing them from proliferative and dying cells over multiple days, is adapted. This approach is applied across a range of different in vitro microenvironments. This approach reveals that the proportion of cells that exhibit long‐term quiescence is regulated by both cell intrinsic and extrinsic factors, with the most dormant cells found in 3D collagen gels. This paper envisions that this approach will prove useful to biologists and bioengineers in the dormancy community to identify, quantify, and study dormant tumor cells.

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