New imaging tracks progress of brain cancer


A new imaging technique enables scientists to trace individual cancer cells as the growth of a tumour spreads through the brain.

Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine used cryo-imaging to look at a mouse model of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive cancer with no treatments to stop it spreading.

Susann M. Brady-Kalnay, Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine said: “We’re able to see things we couldn’t before, and we can use these images to understand how tumour cells invade and disperse”.

The cryoimaging system consisted of a fluorescence microscope, robotic imaging positioner, customized cryostat, PC-based control system, and visualization/analysis software. The technique alternates between sectioning and imaging, collecting colour brightfield and fluorescent blockface image volumes.

The scientists used a model that included four different cell lines of brain cancers at various stages of tumor development and dispersion. The cancer cells were modified with fluorescent markers and implanted in the model’s brain.

Researchers found that two cell lines, a human brain cancer LN229, and a rodent cancer CNS-1, best resembled the actions of glioblastoma multiforme in human patients.

The ability to produce clear and detailed images will be invaluable when evaluating the potency of drugs and other therapies designed to block dispersal of glioblastoma multiforme cells.