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article imageNew way to improve breast cancer treatment

By Tim Sandle     Oct 31, 2014 in Science
Vanderbilt - 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.
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.”
More about Breast Cancer, Cancer, pcr, Genetics, Vanderbilt University
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