Multimodal microscopy method looks into the molecular mechanisms of tumor invasion

A team of researchers at the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is studying the molecular mechanisms of tumor invasion using a multimodal microscopy method for enhanced cell imaging. The ultramicroscopy method, combined with magnetic resonance imaging (MR-UM), provides insight into the dynamics of glioma angiogenesis.

Related: Microscope scans images 2000X faster for near-real-time videos of nanoscale processes

The invasive nature of glioma cells mainly accounts for their resistance to current treatment modalities, as the diffusely infiltrating tumor cells, which evade surgical resection and survive treatment, inevitably give rise to reoccurring tumors. The research group, led by postdoc Dr. Julia Bode, is interested in lysophospholipid signaling, which depends on the extracellular matrix environment in vitro and in vivo. They are also analyzing tumor cell-specific signaling of respective G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulating cell division, migration, and invasion.

Dr. Julia Bode, postdoctoral researcher at the German Cancer Research Center.

The background of the group is in analyzing tumor growth, invasion, and volume in vivo using techniques including bioluminescence imaging (BLI), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and MRI. The resolution of these techniques is not high enough to detect single cells. But with MRI-UM, they are able to track single tumor cells in a whole mouse brain and investigate structures that are favored by tumor cells for invasion. Prior to this method, the researchers used two-photon microscopy to detect tumor cells—however, the key advantage of MRI-UM is that it can see the tumor cells in their natural environment in the whole brain. They are able to locate cells in three dimensions in the whole organ, avoiding the need to prepare single slices for observation.

Full details of the work appear in the journal eLife; for more information, please visit

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