Imaging tracks how live cells help tumours grow

September 17th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) Advances in cellular imaging are allowing scientists to spy on how live cells are supporting formation of tumours, according to researchers.Zena Werb of California University and her colleagues used optimised methods of laser microscopy to track the movement of live cells in a mouse model of breast cancer.

As a tumour grows, it triggers immune responses in the body and recruits normal cells which help “feed” and support its spread. The tumour influence on nearby cells is dependent on the micro-environment surrounding it.

Some immune cells and structural proteins defend the body against the tumour while others help it grow and spread.

In order to track these ‘rogue’ cells, researchers injected fluorescent dyes near tumours in mouse models of breast cancer which also expressed fluorescently tagged cells.

A specially designed microscope allowed live imaging of tumour-associated cells for more than 12 hours while retaining the high resolution necessary to watch individual cells move in real-time.

They saw that subsets of immune cells move differently - some migrate along blood vessels, while others remain at the border of the tumour.

Additionally, changes in the tumour microenvironment such as a reduction of oxygen caused some immune cells to stop migrating. This research sheds light on how certain immune cells help or hinder tumour growth.

The report was published in the September-October issue of a new research journal Disease Models and Mechanisms (DMM).

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