Viewing cancer cells in 'real' time

Dec 15, 2008

A breakthrough technique that allows scientists to view individually-labeled tumor cells as they move about in real time in a live mouse may enable scientists to develop microenvironment-specific drugs against cancer, researchers report at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 48th Annual Meeting, Dec. 13-17, 2008 in San Francisco.

With this technique, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center in New York City are targeting intravasation, the deadly process by which tumor cells invade the surrounding basal membrane and tap into blood vessels, from which they obtain nutrients that allow them to grow and spread in the body.

Viewing the cancer cells in real time through a special glass "window" inserted into a tumor in the animal's mammary gland, the scientists marked the cells in the tumor with a green fluorescent protein and then bathed two small groups of cells in a blue laser, permanently "photo-switching" the green fluorescence to red.

Through the glass "window," the researchers followed the two red photo-switched cancer cell populations as they grew and moved about in reaction to their microenvironments.

The scientists, Bojana Gligorijevic, Dmitriy Kedrin and Jacco van Rheenen, in the labs of Jeff Segall and John Condeelis at Albert Einstein, found that the microenvironment decides single cells' fate even in a very small tumor.

In the experiment, the two red-switched cell populations were only five cell diameters apart in the tumor.

One group was near a blood vessel, while the other was farther "inland" in the tumor. Twenty-four hours after the red markers were switched on, the cancer cells near the vessel could be seen moving towards the blood supply.

The number of these marked cells decreased as they were launched into the blood circulation. Meanwhile, the inland cancer population moved little but increased in number.

Gligorijevic says that she and her colleagues will zero in on the differences between the two microenvironments, to identify the critical interactions that drive intravasation in one part of the tumor and not in the other.

"Using this approach we can now link the behavior of individual tumor cells to the type of microenvironment within the tumor, a classification which will help us in developing and testing microenvironment-specific drugs," Gligorijevic explains.

Source: American Society for Cell Biology

Explore further: Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are much less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Bright spot' on Ceres has dimmer companion

1 hour ago

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) ...

Key facts on US 'open Internet' regulation

1 hour ago

A landmark ruling by the US Federal Communications Commission seeks to enshrine the notion of an "open Internet," or "net neutrality." Here are key points:

Spotify deals with random shuffle and we mortals

1 hour ago

How do we mortals perceive random sequences? An entry in the question-and-answer site Quora focused on a question involving a music-streaming service Spotify. That question signifies how we perceive what ...

Recommended for you

Cancer drug first tested in pet dogs begins human trials

3 hours ago

A new drug that prompts cancer cells to self-destruct while sparing healthy cells is now entering phase I clinical trials in humans. The drug, called PAC-1, first showed promise in the treatment of pet dogs ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.