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They then modified a complex technique called mass cytometry, which is used to detect and analyze protein molecules. The organoids were broken up into individual cells, then antibodies combined with heavy metal atoms were added. Antibodies are proteins that selectively bind to certain cancer signaling molecules. The scientists nebulized the cells, to convert them into a fine mist, and electrically charged the heavy meal atoms, so that a magnetic field could be used to separate out the different signaling molecules.
The researchers tested this technique in bowel cancer cells and were able to simultaneously detect 28 key signaling molecules, across 6 different cell types, in over 1 million cells. They found indications that the cancer cells themselves, as well as immune cells and connective tissue, had 'rewired' the normal signaling networks of bowel tissue, allowing tumors to grow unchecked.
The next steps will be to use this technique to look for ways to block the communications between cells that allow them to withstand treatment. The team also hopes to test this new technique in different types of cancer.
Dr. Emily Armstrong, research information manager at Cancer Research UK, said:
Having a better understanding of this complex communication between cancer cells and other types of cell that make up a tumor could reveal secrets of how cancer comes back after treatment and spreads around the body.
While this technique is in the early stages of development right now, in the future we may be able to grow replicas of individual patients' tumors, to identify early signs that a drug won't work for them so we can personalize their treatment plan. We hope this could one day help more people to survive cancer". Source:
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