BOSTON A powerful new with high resolution, three-dimensional imaging tool is providing researchers with never-before-seen views of what goes on deep within a living tumor. Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are using multiphoton laser scanning microscopy to visualize individual cells, where they can monitor gene expression, therapy effectiveness and tumor cells interactions with normal cells. The work published in this weeks Nature Medicine demonstrates that the technique could be adapted to measure a wide range of physiological parameters.
Since the researchers use a living mouse model, they can perform a variety of experiments and take numerous measurements over time. "We can figure out whats going on under the surface of the tumor without disturbing the tumor itself," says principal investigator Rakesh Jain, PhD, of the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology.
Current imaging techniques do not have the same combination of depth or resolution. "This new technology gives us the ability to look deep inside the tissues of living animals," says lead author Edward Brown, PhD, also of the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology.
The MGH scientists first looked at gene expression at the tumor site, focusing on the angiogenesis-promoting gene, VEGF. Cancer cells can coax nearby normal cells to produce VEGF in order to recruit nourishing blood vessels to the tumor. By imaging individual cells in and around the tumor, the MGH team could see exactly which cells turned on the gene. They could also visualize blood vessels deep within a cancerous mass, and they hope this information will offer clues to the mechanism of tumor angiogenesis. "Theres a dance between the cancer cells and the host cells. Well now be able to see how that occurs," says Jain.
The scientists were also able to use their technique to track individual cell populations within a tumor. Some cancer cells develop a hardiness that allows them to s
Contact: Georgia W. Peirce
Massachusetts General Hospital