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Stanford researchers harness nanoparticles to track cancer-cell changes
Date:4/14/2009

STANFORD, Calif. The more dots there are, the more accurate a picture you get when you connect them. A new imaging technology could give scientists the ability to simultaneously measure as many as 100 or more distinct features in or on a single cell. In a disease such as cancer, that capability would provide a much better picture of what's going on in individual tumor cells.

A Stanford University School of Medicine team led by Cathy Shachaf, PhD, an instructor in microbiology and immunology, has for the first time used specially designed dye-containing nanoparticles to simultaneously image two features within single cells. Although current single-cell flow cytometry technologies can do up to 17 simultaneous visualizations, this new method has the potential to do far more. The new technology works by enhancing the detection of ultra-specific but very weak patterns, known as Raman signals, that molecules emit in response to light.

In a study to be published April 15 in the online journal PLoS-ONE, the Stanford team was able to simultaneously monitor changes in two intracellular proteins that play crucial roles in the development of cancer. Successful development of the new technique may improve scientists' ability not only to diagnose cancers for example, by determining how aggressive tumors' constituent cells are but to eventually separate living, biopsied cancer cells from one another based on characteristics indicating their stage of progression or their degree of resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. That would expedite the testing of treatments targeting a tumor's most recalcitrant cells, said Shachaf, a cancer researcher who works in a laboratory run by the study's senior author, Garry Nolan, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and a member of Stanford's Cancer Center.

Cancer starts out in a single cell, and its development is often heralded by changes in the activation levels of certain proteins. I
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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