Whether a tumour develops from individual cancer cells and whether metastases are formed depends on many factors in the affected tissue. A greater understanding of a tumour’s complex switch and control circuits could help to combat cancer in a more targeted fashion. Researchers at the University of Zurich have come up with an imaging method that is able to simultaneously visualize a previously unachieved number of factors involved in cancer.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Switzerland. There are many reasons why in the era of cutting-edge medicine it is still difficult to cure this disease.
A tumour may, for instance, consist of different tumour cell subpopulations, each of which has its own profile and responds differ-ently to therapy – or not. Furthermore, the cancer cells and the healthy cells in the body interact and communicate with one another.
How a tumour then actually develops and whether metastases form depends on which signals a tumour cell receives from its environment. With the development of a new method the team around Prof. Bernd Bodenmiller from the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Zurich – in cooperation with ETH Zurich and University Hospital Zurich – has suc-ceeded in comprehensively profiling and visualizing tumour cells from patient samples. This promising method has now been published in “Nature Methods”.
New imaging method – major opportunity
Setting out to determine a tumour’s cell profile, its neighbourhood relationships and the circuit struc-ture within and in between cells is a highly complex endeavour. This is because the biomarkers, i.e. the specific molecules of the various cell types and their circuits, have to be measured in their spatial relationships.
“With our method it is possible to obtain a comprehensive picture using a novel imaging technique that currently can simultaneously record 32, and in the near future more than one hundred biomarkers”, explains Bernd Bodenmiller, the study coordinator. Furthermore, thanks to state-of-the-art imaging the information about the cells’ neighbourhood relationships is kept and their direct impact on the cellular switch and control circuits can be visualised.
The new technique is based on methods which are already routinely used in hospitals – with two im-portant innovations. First, the biomarkers are visualised using pure metal isotopes instead of dyes. To do so, biomarkers on very thin tissue sections are labelled with antibodies. The antibodies are cou-pled to the pure metal isotopes.
Then tiny pieces of tissue are removed with a laser system devel-oped by Prof. Detlef Günther from the ETH Zurich, and the metal isotopes of the pieces are measured with a mass spectrometer which can determine the mass and quantity of the individual metal isotopes. “This trick gets round the problem of the limited number of colours in the analysis of biological sam-ples”, comments Bodenmiller.
Secondly, information about the cells, and their control circuits, is no longer qualitative. With the new measurement method it is possible to precisely determine which cells experience what effect and to which extent. In this way the weak points of the control system can be pinpointed and this helps in the development of new therapeutic approaches. This is the reason, so Bodenmiller, why it is becoming increasingly important to understand these interactions for diagnosis and therapy.
Customised treatment is the goal
The initial measurement results of the new biomarker technique for breast cancer have revealed the heterogeneity of tumours. As a consequence of major growth, some tumours suffer from oxygen defi-ciency on the inside, other misuse the body’s own immune cells to drive their growth. Cell-cell interac-tion and cell location in the centre or on the edges of the tumour also have a decisive influence. One thing is clear: no tumour is like any other and Bodenmiller believes that treatment should reflect this. In a next step his research team wishes to use the new measurement method to explore the roles played by control circuits and cell communication in metastasis formation.
Charlotte Giesen, H. A. O. Wang, Denis Schapiro, Nevena Zivanovic, Andrea Jacobs, Bodo Hatten-dorf, Peter J Schüffler, Daniel Grolimund, Joachim M Buhmann, Simone Brandt, Zsuzsanna Varga, Peter J. Wild, Detlef Günther & Bernd Bodenmiller. Highly multiplexed imaging of tumor tissues with subcellular resolution by mass cytometry. Nature Methods, March 2014. DOI:10.1038/nmeth.2869
Prof. Bernd Bodenmiller
Institute of Molecular Biology
University of Zurich
Tel: +41 (0)44 635 31 28
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 634 44 39
Email: bettina. email@example.com
Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich
Great apes communicate cooperatively
25.05.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
Rice study decodes genetic circuitry for bacterial spore formation
24.05.2016 | Rice University
Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.
The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene
In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...
The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
25.05.2016 | Trade Fair News
25.05.2016 | Life Sciences
25.05.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering