Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cancer's All-rounder
17 June 2015

Cancer's All-rounder

Cancer patients often have cells removed and tested to further investigate their disease. Unfortunately, life inside a three-dimensional tumour can be difficult to fathom from isolated cells in a laboratory dish. The 'canceroid' pictured could be the answer – a three-dimensional tumour model grown from a patient’s own cells, but outside their body, and sharing many traits with the original tumour. This canceroid was grown from colon cancer cells; coloured dyes highlight the life inside under a fluorescence microscope. Among the thousands of cells (each stained blue) are structural proteins (red), and BMI1 (green), a protein commonly found in stem cells and indicative of specific types of colon cancer. Canceroids offer a compromise to researchers: the flexibility of experimentation outside of the body, but the realism of looking inside living 3D tissue. Developed from a patient’s own tumour, canceroids also present huge potential for personalised medicine.

Written by John Ankers

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