Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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The Bigger Picture

Melding images of different proteins present in tumour biopsies using a new technique provides a more accurate picture of the type of cancer and how to treat it

06 September 2018

The Bigger Picture

Imagine looking at a map but only seeing the motorways, or fields, or rivers. You wouldn’t be getting the whole picture. A similar problem arises when looking at tissue biopsies from patients. With cancer tissue biopsies, spotting changes in multiple proteins often means more appropriate treatment can be given. Researchers now present a technique called tissue-based cyclic immunofluorescence (t-CyCIF), which images multiple proteins at high resolution. Human tissue biopsies were treated with fluorescently tagged antibodies that bound a specific protein. Each biopsy was imaged, the fluorescence then deactivated and the process repeated again for different proteins. Stitching together the images revealed a more complete picture of the tissue. In the case of metastatic skin cancer (pictured), the team simultaneously looked at proteins marking out cancer cells (green), immune cells (white) and connective tissue (red). With this approach researchers can more easily uncover changes that occur in cancer for more personalised treatments.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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