The University College London (UCL) is employing new technology helping their investigators to analyze individual cells which can potentially lead to personalized therapies in the future. By developing technology that offers scientists to analyze the behavior of millions of different cells residing inside of lab-grown tumors, the Cancer Research UK-funded initiative offers new insight into how mutated cells “mimic the growth signals” that are expressed by normal healthy cells.
This new technique helps the UCL’s Cancer Institute personnel to “simultaneously measure the behavior of cancer cells, healthy cells and immune cells from mini-tumors,” reports Dr. Chris Tape. The Irish News reports “ that UCL researchers have insight now that mutations in cancer cells “mimic the growth of signals normally provided by cells in the healthy tissue microenvironment.” They continued: “In healthy cells, signals from the environment are tightly controlled so the tissue doesn’t grow too fast.” But when cancer mutations are involved “the mutations that mimic microenvironment signals are constantly switched on—allowing the cancer to grow unchecked.” With this new technology UCL investigators can study these elements in extreme detail.
For the first time UCL researchers can assess how cancer cells interact with any cell type using mini-tumor models. Hence as the team progresses, they can study how tumors from individual patients can uniquely communicate with healthy cells and the immune system, reports the Irish News.
Dr. Tape emphasized that “By understanding how mini-tumors function at the single-cell level, this new technology will enable researchers to identify new ways to treat an individual’s cancer.”
Dr. Chris Tape, Principal Research Fellow