Neoplasms have a complicated lifetime, and so their development is hard to study within living animals on a continuous basis. At the University of Freiburg in Germany, scientists grew human breast cancer cells that were genetically modified to express a protein that fluoresces with light in the far-red part of the color spectrum. The cell lines were then transplanted into living rats and allowed to grow.
The researchers were then able to illuminate the animals with near-infrared light and excite the fluorescent protein, the light from which could be detected using special equipment. The researchers were able to see the entirety of the tumors and track their development, growth, and movement for over a month. The animals were then dissected and the tumors compared to the results that the new imaging technology provided, showing that the visualized tumors were very similar to how they actually were.
Interestingly, the scientists noted that in the initial weeks of tumor development, most of the growth happened in the support matrix that helps the tumor survive. Only after four weeks was there a boom in the number of tumor cells. Findings such as these may help target appropriate therapies to the nature, size, and shape of patients’ individual tumors.
Source: University of Freiburg…