Authors: Jade Parker, Editor
A group of researchers from the University of Missouri (MO, USA),Centro Nacional de Metrología and Universidad de Guanajuato (both Mexico) report a novel technique for detecting and analyzing melanoma cells which could lead to better and faster diagnosis of the disease. The findings were recently published in the journal Analyst.
For years, melanoma cells studied in the laboratory were widely regarded as being uniform in both size and optical characterizations. More recently, however, it has become apparent that these cells show are very distinct from one and other.
First author Luis Polo-Parada (University of Missouri) explained:“Researchers often seek out the types of cancerous cells that are homogenous in nature and are easier to observe with traditional microscopic devices. Yet, because the vast amount of research is conducted on one type of cell, it often can lead to misdiagnosis in a clinical setting.”
Current systems utilize the formation of sound waves followed by the absorption of light which means that the tissues must adequately absorb the laser light. This is why, up until now, researchers have focused only on consistently hued and shaped melanoma cells, Polo Parada explained.
In this study, researchers supplemented an emerging technique termed photoacoustic spectroscopy and modified a microscope into order to perform imaging spectrometry on individual immortalized melanin-producing cells. From this they revealed a broad variation in the cells in terms of their size, absorption spectrum and color appearance which varied from translucent to yellow to almost black.
Utilizing the modified system the team were able to diagnose human melanoma and breast cancers as well as mouse melanoma cells with greater ease and efficiency.
“Overall, our studies show that by using modified techniques we will be able to observe non-uniform cancer cells, regardless of their origin,” Polo-Parada concluded. “Additionally, as these melanoma cells divide and distribute themselves throughout the blood, they can cause melanomas to metastasize. We were able to observe those cancers as well. This method could help medical doctors and pathologists to detect cancers as they spread, becoming one of the tools in the fight against this fatal disease.”
Sources: Polo-Parada L, Gutiérrez-Juárez G, Cywiak D, Pérez-Solanoc R & Baker GA Spectrophotometric analysis at the single-cell level: elucidating dispersity within melanic immortalized cell populations Analyst doi: 10.1039/C6AN02662A (2017); MU News bureau press release: http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2017/0504-fighting-cancer-new-microscopic-technique-could-help-detect-diagnose-metastatic-melanomas/