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Multispectral imaging system captures cancer signals

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Marie Freebody,

A multispectral imaging system from Cambridge Research & Instrumentation (CRi) could help oncologists treat and manage cancer in situ. According to CRi, its Vectra multispectral slide analysis system and inForm advanced image analysis software can pick up on some of the telltale indicators presented by cancer cells with better precision than conventional methods.

Results of a collaborative study between researchers at CRi, the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge and Cell Signaling Technology in Beverly were presented during the American Association for Cancer Research’s International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, held November 2009 in Boston.

The report outlines the potential use of CRi’s imaging and analysis platform in clinical studies to assess multiple biomarkers for patient selection, drug response and molecular diagnostic development. CRi’s imaging system relies on detecting subtle differences in a cancer cell’s molecular circuitry.

All living cells contain a complex communication system comprising what are called “cell transduction pathways.” These pathways utilize signaling proteins that control behaviors such as cell motility, proliferation and cell death. As a tumor progresses, cancer cells acquire a number of characteristic alterations (for example, the capacity to proliferate independently, invade surrounding tissues and metastasize to distant sites). These alterations result from changes in the associated signal transduction pathways.

CRi’s inForm software product can detect and quantify multiple protein markers in a single tissue sample. Users can train the system, creating algorithms in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days, allowing the software to analyze large numbers of slides and remove the incidence of human error. Courtesy of Cambridge Research & Instrumentation.

“Research into such pathways will allow scientists to understand the mechanism of cancer initiation and progression at the molecular level, thus allowing better therapeutics to be developed,” said Clifford Hoyt, vice president and chief technology officer at CRi. “This could help in the treatment or management of the disease, and with better understanding in the future, it might also help prevention.”

To understand the mechanisms involved in cancer, it is beneficial to observe several pathways in the same tissue simultaneously. However, current methods used to detect multiple pathway proteins, such as microarray analysis, lack contextual precision within cells due to destruction of tissue integrity. In contrast, CRi’s system can be applied to intact tissue, enabling scientists to gain important contextual information that is needed to assess a cell’s behavior.

“CRi’s approach uses an optimized high-throughput tunable filter that has been matched to the wavelength ranges of common chromogens and fluorophores,” Hoyt said. “Signals from the various chromogenic labels applied to multiple proteins in a signaling pathway are often spectrally and/or spatially overlapping. We use a high-throughput multispectral imaging platform to acquire and subsequently unmix multiple signals from a tissue sample in just minutes.”

According to Hoyt, the possibilities are endless. “Being able to characterize cell behavior in context expands the breadth of opportunities currently available in cancer research,” he said. “Our collaborations with customers such as health care solution provider Novartis are providing further validation of multiparameter tissue-based assays for various applications, including signal transduction pathway characterization, cancer stem cell analysis and hormone receptor characterization.”

Feb 2010
BiophotonicsBioScanCambridge Research & Instrumentationcell signaling technologycell transduction pathwayschromagensCliff HoytCRIfluorophoresFreebodyimaginginformMarie Freebodymicroarray analysismultispectral imagerNewsNovartis Institutes for Biomedical ResearchVectra

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