http://www.digitaljournal.com/science/new-way-to-improve-breast-cancer-treatment/article/412311

New way to improve breast cancer treatment

Posted Oct 31, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Medical technologists have devised a new method for improving breast cancer treatment. This is based on tumors being different and from studying sections of the tumor, then most effective treatment can be applied.
Cervical gland showing an area of high grade epithelial dysplasia (CIN3). Asymptomatic patient  biop...
Cervical gland showing an area of high grade epithelial dysplasia (CIN3). Asymptomatic patient, biopsy taken after a routine PAP smear was found to be abnormal.
Wikimedia Commons/Haymanj
A new method assesses the response of sections of a patient's tumor. The method uses fluorescence imaging to monitor the response of three-dimensional chunks of tumors removed from patients. The tumors can be exposed, on a micro scale, to different anti-cancer drugs in order to assess which drug will be the most effective.
With the new technique, a special collagen gel is used to keep the tunor section intact (so that it maintains a three-dimensional structure). Keeping the shape is key to the detection. To the shape, a laser is applied. The laser causes two key enzymes in the cells to fluoresce. Scientists can then apply a process called optical metabolic imaging to determine the physical dimensions of the structure, and then compare this to a library of sample images. This process, in trials, has proved to be very accurate.
The new process is fairly rapid and it can produce a result within 72 hours, which is far quicker than conventional culture methods. Conventionally, when breast cancer is diagnosed, the drug applied to the patient is based on the results of a biopsy. The downside is that it can take up to three-months to establish the most effective treatment. Research suggests that in around one third of cases the initial drug selected is proven to be ineffective and a new drug regimen needs to be adopted. With the treatment of cancer, any delay can have serious consequences.
By studying the tumor, medical professionals can determine how effective different anti-cancer drugs will be before starting chemotherapy.
The research was conducted at Vanderbilt University. The findings have been reported to the journal Cancer Research, in a paper headed “Quantitative Optical Imaging of Primary Tumor Organoid Metabolism Predicts Drug Response in Breast Cancer.”