The ability to better visualize the composition of a tumor during its growth can provide valuable insights to target appropriate therapeutics.
A new study visualized and quantified the growth and composition of breast tumors over time in a living animal.
The study was conducted by polymer chemist Prof. Dr. Prasad Shastri and the pharmacist Jon Christensen, in collaboration with the biomedical researcher Dr. Daniel Vonwil, from the University of Freiburg.
The researchers from the University engineered breast cancer cells to express E2-Crimson and then grew these cells in a living system to form tumors.
They achieved the visualization of the tumor in real-time by illuminating the tumor expressing E2-Crimson with near infrared light followed by reconstruction of the tumor image using fluorescence molecular tomography.
This led to two important findings: During the first four weeks of tumor development, the tumor volume increased not due to the increase in the tumor cells but due to the support matrix they were synthesizing.
After four weeks, however, the tumor underwent a dramatic increase in the number of tumor cells. These new findings and the ability to provide visual and quantitative information on phases of tumor growth is significant for selection of treatments and delivery of cancer drugs in the future.
The findings were published in the journal PLoS One.