Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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World Cancer Day Tracing Change

Mapping DNA and physical changes in single cells to follow tumour progression

04 February 2022

Tracing Change

The unerring progress of time brings changes for us all. Staying in control of our lives depends on keeping track of, and adapting to, these changes. Our countless cells busily undergo constant adaptation, which can occasionally bring unwanted results, such as cancer. Cancerous cells change their form and function as the tumour grows and starts to spread (a process called metastasis). Monitoring these changes could help prevent tumour growth and the associated health problems. Researchers have developed a new computational method to assign cancerous cells a ‘score’ based on their physical and genetic status. They analysed breast cancer samples (pictured), and found the structure of cell nuclei (the cell's DNA-containing centre) and the overall orientation of cells (such as the clustered groups around the edges of the masses shown) reflected their cancerous development. These markers can map tumour progress, highlighting when and where to target new treatments.

Today is World Cancer Day

Written by Anthony Lewis

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