The recent breakthrough in scientific research has opened up new possibilities in studying cancer cells like never before. Scientists are now able to delve into the intricate world of individual cancer cells and observe how they interact with their surroundings. This pioneering technique, developed by the University of Surrey in collaboration with GSK, UCL, and Yokogawa, allows researchers to examine the fatty lipid compounds within single live cancer cells, providing valuable insights into the nature of these cells.

Dr. Johanna Von Gerichten, a leading researcher from Surrey’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, highlights the challenges posed by the unique characteristics of cancer cells. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells exhibit a diverse range of behaviors, making it difficult to develop targeted treatments. Studying live cells in their natural environment has always been a daunting task, as it requires a level of detail that was previously unattainable. However, the ability to sample live cells under a microscope and analyze their fatty contents individually represents a significant advancement in cancer research.

Through the utilization of Yokogawa’s Single Cellome System SS2000, researchers were able to extract individual pancreatic cancer cells from a glass culture dish with remarkable precision. The use of tiny tubes, measuring only 10 μm in diameter, allowed for the isolation of single live cells without damaging their cellular structure. By employing fluorescent dye to stain the cells, scientists were able to track the lipid droplets within the cells, providing crucial insights into the role of fatty molecules in cancer progression.

Collaborating with Sciex, researchers developed a novel method using a mass spectrometer to fragment the lipids within the cancer cells. This innovative approach enabled them to analyze the molecular composition of the cells in unprecedented detail. By studying the lipid profiles of different cells, researchers uncovered significant variations among individual cancer cells, shedding light on the complexity of these cells’ composition. Furthermore, the researchers observed how the lipid composition within the cells changed in response to external stimuli, offering valuable information on the dynamic nature of cancer cells.

Professor Melanie Bailey emphasized the transformative potential of this groundbreaking technique in the field of cancer research. Through collaborations with experts from diverse disciplines, such as infection, immunity, and radiation biology, researchers aim to apply this method to a wide range of cells to deepen our understanding of various biological processes. Dr. Carla Newman of GSK expressed her optimism about the future implications of this research, envisioning a future where scientists can observe how individual cancer cells communicate with each other and develop precise, targeted treatments based on these insights. The possibilities unlocked by this novel approach could revolutionize the way we approach cancer treatment and pave the way for more effective therapies in the future.


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