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Ovarian cancer’s first stages imaged

BioPhotonics
Sep 2011
Compiled by BioPhotonics staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A new model of time-lapse microscopy has been created to provide better visualization of metastatic processes in their early stages.

Researchers at Harvard University have created a laboratory model using time-lapse video microscopic technology that enables doctors to observe the early stages of ovarian cancer metastasis. The technique makes it possible to observe key molecular mechanisms that are necessary for the force-dependent processes associated with metastasis.

Ovarian metastatic tumors are some of the most morbid because they can grow large enough to interfere with organ functions in the peritoneum. Ovarian cancer cells spread throughout the peritoneum by attaching to the outer cell layer of organs in this area, clearing away the layer of cells there and embedding themselves onto the organ. Once embedded, these cells proliferate and expand.

The scientists visualized the detailed sequence of the cells by using the time-lapse video microscopic technique. They observed the insertion of tumor cells into peritoneal monolayers in cell culture and then determined that the mechanism involves the tumor cells’ use of force via α5 integrin, talin I and muscle myosin II.

By targeting those molecules, the scientists believe that it would be theoretically possible to prevent new metastatic tumors from forming.

The study, which was funded by the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, was published June 14 in Cancer Discovery (doi: 10.1158/2159-8274.CD-11-0010).


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