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Innovator Award to Berkeley Lab's Joe Gray for improved breast cancer screening
Date:10/1/2007

ursor lesions by their molecular characteristics. To map these lesions with precision to insure successful surgery, tissue sections will be imaged using mass spectrometry to find cells that express the genes specifically associated with the most lethal cancer types.

Getting down to specifics, cell by cell

For cell-specific anatomical imaging, Gray and collaborators Matthew Francis of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab, Jim O'Neil and Scott Taylor of Berkeley Lab, and James Marks of UC San Francisco will investigate PET and MRI using agents carried in viral capsids. Capsids are the shells of viruses whose RNA genomes have been removed; the capsids are used to carry reagents that increase image contrast. The outside of the shells will be decorated with antibodies specifically targeting the protein gene products characteristic of the lethal cancer subtypes.

In addition, the researchers will consider quantum dots, nanocrystals that have been modified to bind to specific molecules and fluoresce when illuminated by a laser, or to increase the strength of MRI signals when combined with marker atoms. Laura Esserman, Karla Kerlikowske, and Nola Hylton at UC San Francisco and Damir Sudar at Berkeley Lab will also explore ways to improve conventional MRI and x-ray mammography by developing digital imaging algorithms that can better recognize metastasis-prone lesions.

For sensitive histopathologic detection -- the precise mapping of lesions and tumors -- Gray will work with Marks and Richard Baehner of UCSF and Frank Chen of Berkeley Lab to develop in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical techniques to identify protein products typical of the genomes of the most lethal cancer subtypes. In collaboration with James Felton at Livermore, they will analyze these molecular signatures by scanning the tissue sample with an ion beam to knock off constituent molecules, which differ by mass; this "secondary ion mass spectrometry" of the tissue
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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