PHI recently joined forces with the Huntsman Cancer Institute in the battle against cancer. Using PHI's HoloMonitor technology, the researchers at Huntsman aim to develop methods quantifying the phenomena known as epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).
EMT regulates the deadliest hallmark of cancer — invasion and metastasis. 80% of all cancer forms, including breast, prostate and skin cancer, arise from epithelial cells. Epithelial cells are located throughout the body, lining (swe: klär) organs and blood vessels, but also our bodies; the outer layer of our skin are epithelial cells.
Like normal epithelial cells, cancerous epithelial cells are rigid and immobile, incapable of creating metastasis. To become a lethal colonizer, a cancerous epithelial cell must first transition into a highly plastic and motile mesenchymal cell, hence the term epithelial–mesenchymal transition.
EMT is a physiological transformation caused by a spectrum of different biochemical processes, making the conventional approach of biochemical characterization indirect and adventurous. Contrary to conventional biochemical methods, HoloMonitor’s unique ability to non-invasively quantify physiological traits (swe: egenskaper), such as single-cell plasticity and motility, allows HoloMonitor to directly and more precisely characterize EMT.
Moreover, as no reagents contaminate the cells, the same cells can be reused to determine additional cellular characteristics, which is especially useful when working with scarce (swe: fåtaliga) primary cells extracted from cancer patients.
With more than 177 research teams studying all aspects of cancer, the Huntsman Cancer Institute is one of the 51 Comprehensive Cancer Centers across the United States supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Read more about EMT in The basics of epithelial-mesenchymal transition here.
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