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New Imaging Method Identifies How Normal and Cancer Cells Move and Adapt

Cell Still

Caption: A human breast cancer cell (green) in a zebrafish blood vessel (magenta) during part of the metastatic process. Captured from a still of a moving image, a cancer cell mimics the behavior of immune cells, where the cell ‘rolls’ thru the vessels.

Credit: T. Liu et al./Science 2018

Stony Brook, NY, April 19, 2018 –  An international team of scientists including David Q. Matus, PhD, and Benjamin L. Martin, PhD, in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Stony Brook University Cancer Center researchers,  have developed a new cell imaging technology combining lattice light sheet microscopy (LLSM) and adaptive optics (AO) to create high-resolution “movies” of cells in their 3D environment that also captures subcellular processes. Published in Science, the research reveals a technology that shows the phenotypic diversity within cells across different organisms and developmental stages and in conditions such as mitosis, immune processes and in metastases.

The AO-LLSM technique offers scientists investigating cancer and other diseases new insights into how cells operate and adapt to different physiological environments.

In the paper, the paper, titled “Observing the Cell in Its Native State: Imaging Subcellular Dynamics in Multicellular Organisms,” Professors Matus and Martin used AO-LLSM to capture and visualize the behavior of human breast cancer cells injected into zebrafish vasculature.

They successfully captured time lapse movies at high resolution of breast cancer cells mimicking the cell behaviors characteristic of immune cells (leukocytes). These behaviors include rolling, crawling and invading out of the vasculature. To view the cell moving images created by the AO-LLSM technique, see this video.

“By observing and characterizing these behaviors, such as cancer cells adopting leukocyte-like behaviors, we may be able to discover new avenues to target the spread or dissemination of metastatic cancer cells,” summarizes Matus.

The research is funded by thy National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Also involved in the Stony Brook research and co-authors on the paper are Taylor Medwig and Abraham Kohrman, both PhD students in Genetics at Stony Brook.



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Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

Contact: Gregory Filiano,        631 444-9343



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