Scientists can now observe the progression of cancer cells in living mice. Using intravital imaging real-time migration, multiplication and invasion of cancer cells is being captured on video. Here pictured in dark blue, a stream of malignant melanoma cells – the root of an aggressive kind of skin cancer – are seen being guided through healthy tissue by muscle fibres (stained red), nerve fibres (blue) and blood vessels (green). This type of imaging has been used to spy on the interaction between cancer cells and the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin; it was found that mid-stage tumours were most susceptible to the treatment. Such tumours have more porous blood vessels than their early and late stage counterparts meaning that the drug can infiltrate with greater ease. Just simply administering a drug to weaken the blood vessels of the remaining tumours could improve the delivery and effectiveness of doxorubicin in the future.
Written by Helen Thomas