A team of dutch researchers have devised a window into metastasis, literary. The scientists implanted a glass window in the abdomen of a mouse through a surgical procedure, allowing them to perform high-resolution imaging of cancer metastasis.
“Visualization of the formation of metastasis [spread of cancer cells] has been hampered by the lack of long-term imaging windows for metastasis-prone organs, such as the the spleen, kidney, small intestine, pancreas, and liver,” the researchers said.
The researchers kept the mouse and cancer cells under observations for 14 days. Single tumor cells proliferated in two stages: “pre-micrometastases,” in which cells were active and motile (moving around a lot) within the confined region of the growing clone; Micrometastases, where cell migration was strongly diminished but proliferation continued.
The researchers claim blocking the cancer cells during the pre-micrometastasis stage with a drug will avert the actual micrometastases phase altogether. Though still early, implementing the same observational technique might provide a new tool for fighting cancer. In the video below you can see the real-time development of cancer in a mouse.
Findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.