Microscopic imaging pierces the 'black box' of cancer bone metastasis
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Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have engineered a system allowing microscopic monitoring and imaging of cancer that has spread to the bone in mice so they can better understand and develop treatment for bone metastasis in humans.

“Advanced prostate cancer and other cancers metastasize to the bones, causing resistance to therapy and pain for patients, but it’s not really clear what makes the bone so special to prostate cancer progression,” said Eleonora Dondossola, Ph.D., instructor in Genitourinary Medical Oncology and lead author of a paper in Science Translational Medicine.

“Bone probably provides cues and an attractive microenvironment for cancer cells to grow,” she notes, but noninvasive microscopy to study the process in detail is hindered by the thickness of the outer bone blocking the view of inner cavity and bone marrow.

“It was a black box. Finally, our model allows us to get inside the bone with intravital multiphoton microscopy and shed some light on these phenomena,” she said.

The researchers show how the technique can monitor and capture the dynamics of tumor cell interaction with bone and bone resident cells as they occur over time.

A tissue-engineered construct under a mouse’s skin develops

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