Cancer Treatment: Track Your Cells?


PORTLAND, Ore. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2021 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 600,000 will die from the disease. But what if there was a way to track how the cancer will grow, spread, and mutate? That information might provide patients a more personalized and precise cancer treatment.

One single cell can provide a slew of information on what’s happening in the body. That’s why researchers at Oregon Health and Science University devised a technique involving quick mapping of the genetic information of single cells. When it comes to tumors …

“It allows us to actually isolate specific regions within a tumor and explore the various different cell types within those regions of the tumor because tumors have a lot of different cells doing a lot of different things,”said Andrew Adey, PhD, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University.

(Read Full Interview)

The technique also allows the researchers to track where the cells are coming from so researchers can see how diseases progress and alter healthy tissue.

“That could lead to potential novel targets that could be used to develop drugs to specifically target those specific alterations that occur,” professor Adey explained.

Watching disease at the molecular level and creating precise treatment for more personalized care.

Professor Adey says that this cell-tracking technique would be useful for other diseases besides cancer, including neurological diseases and diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Cherry, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Cell-based therapy holds great promise and has long been on the horizon of cancer treatment. Cell-based therapies offer the ability to non-invasively track the delivery of various therapeutic cells, like T cells and stem cells, to the tumor site, and if or how they spread. This would allow better understanding of the mechanisms of cancer development and intervention. In general, there are two approaches for cell tracking: direct, where cells are labeled with certain tags that can be detected directly with suitable imaging equipment, and indirect cell labeling, which typically uses reporter genes approach. Reporter genes are those genes that when introduced into target cells produce a protein receptor or enzyme that binds, transports, or traps a subsequently injected imaging probe. The techniques for tracking various cell types. For example, immune cells, stem cells, and cancer cells. In cancer, tracking techniques can include fluorescence, bioluminescence, positron emission tomography, also called a PET scan, single-photon emission computed tomography, or a SPECT scan, and magnetic resonance imaging, commonly referred to as MRI.

DIAGNOSING: In 2021, an estimated 608,570 people will die of cancer in the United States. Non-invasive tracking of immune and stem cells were primarily intended for potential cancer therapy applications while tracking of cancer cells could further our understanding of cancer development and tumor metastasis. Safety is a high concern for researchers in future clinical applications and the ideal imaging modality for tracking therapeutic cells in cancer patients requires the imaging tags to be non-toxic, biocompatible, and highly specific.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Andrew Adey, PhD, an associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University says, “With this newest technology, what we’ve been able to do is instead of just isolating these cells from a large piece of tissue, we can actually track where these cells are present within the tissue. So, it gives us a really precise mapping of where these cells are derived from within that piece of tissue, which can give us insights into a lot of disease states where there’s actually a spatial component. So, one of the things that we applied this technology to was in stroke, where there’s a very strong spatial component at the site of the injury and then radiating out from it. And we’re able to actually capture that spatial information radiating out from that site of injury with all of the different cell types that are present and how those are altered in different ways with relation to the injury site and the spatial position.”

(Source: Andrew Adey, PhD, Associate Professor, Oregon Health & Science University)




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Andrew Adey, PhD, associate professor of molecular and medical genetics

Read the entire Q&A