Australian researchers have been able to watch cancer cells react to chemotherapy for the first time, potentially revolutionizing cancer treatment worldwide.
The team from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute developed a microscopic type of closed circuit television (CCTV) to provide moving images of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells, the most common type of cancer in children.
The project disproved a decades-off theory that leukemia cells survive chemotherapy, the most common type of cancer treatment, by ‘hiding’ in the body, showing that they instead simply ‘run away’ from the treatment.
Edwin Hawkins, the lead researcher from the Walter and Eliza Hall team, said the breakthrough could change the way all cancers are treated as well as some auto-immune diseases.
“Right before our eyes, these cells were sprinting off in all directions, jumping in and out of blood vessels and using these ‘ highways’ in the body to migrate and recolonize,” Hawkins told News Limited on Tuesday.
“We now know that it is ineffective to design treatments to target the ‘hiding places’ of the cancer, because the cells are not hiding.
“We are now working on finding a way to stop these cells in their tracks.”
The research team is now applying the same approach to study the behavior of breast cancer and melanoma cells in the same circumstances.
Hawkins said he was inspired 10 years ago by websites which feature satellite images, such as Google Maps, allowing users to explore the world.
“We thought, ‘well hold on, if they can do it for cities, why can’t we do it for organs in the body?’ Our new technique allows us to watch action unfolding for days, with the ability to zoom in and out on the same patch of tissue,” he said. (PNA/Xinhua)