Tracking the spread of cancer cells – Photon02

Not much is known about how clustered cancer cells move, but it is important to understand how individual cancer cells break off from a cluster and spread throughout the human body. A research collaboration between the University of Wales College of Medicine and Kingston University * has lead to the development of a computational imaging technique that tracks the movement of individual cancer cells within cell clusters.

Dr Hoppe, a member of the research team from Kingston University, will be speaking at the Photon02 Conference, in Cardiff on Monday 2 September. He will describe how the research team used a customised microscope fitted with modulation contrast filters to make it easier to see the edges of a single cell. Using the microscope, they studied individual cells within clusters of human colon cancer cells.

The position and velocity of the individual cells was tracked and recorded using a newly developed mathematical computer programme. The programme draws each cell`s boundary on the first digital image and then moves it to the new location in each consecutive image. This is done at a faster rate than was previously possible. Over a two hour period the studied cells were found to have an average speed of 16 micrometres per hour, one micrometre is one millionth of a metre.

Cancer cells usually appear in clusters and there is a suggestion that cell-to-cell adhesions may restrict their mobility. The adhesions are thought to restrict movement in clustered cell populations. Dr Hoppe`s quantitative analysis method for measuring cell movement in clustered cells may therefore help researchers work out how much effect the cell-to-cell adhesion has. This may ultimately provide information about preventing cancer cells from detaching and spreading.

* The research is a collaboration between the Metastasis Research Group, part of the College of Medicine, at the University of Wales and the Digital Imaging Research Centre at Kingston University.

Media Contact

Joanne Aslett alfa

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.photon02.co.uk

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