A 3-D Cell Scanner That Could Change Breast Cancer Detection

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Researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have been investigating the use of a new 3-D cell-imaging technology called Cell-CT to characterize subtle changes in a cell's nuclear structure in order to improve the diagnostic accuracy and prognosis for breast cancer.

Cell-CT uses optical projection tomography to render cells in 3-D and is developed by VisionGate, Inc., out of Phoenix, Arizona. The Cell-CT appears to be in the process of commercialization and its operation is described on the company's product page and demonstrated quite nicely in the video below.

VisionGate's innovative Cell-CT technology is breaking new ground in the field of quantitative cell analysis by virtue of its unique ability to compute the true 3-D internal structure of cells based on molecular optical absorption densities. The computed 3-D density structure is isotropic within a cell; meaning the resolution is equal in all three spatial dimensions. Cells are not placed on slides, but rather, they are suspended in fluid and injected through a micro-capillary tube that permits multiple viewing perspectives around 360 degrees. VisionGate's method of 3-D imaging uses state-of-the-art radiological x-ray CT tomographic image reconstruction, while utilizing visible photons rather than x-rays. The Cell-CT platform enables the quantitative analysis of the in situ 3-D distribution of targeted molecular markers, stains, and other absorbing structures within a cell at sub-micron resolution in a manner that links to traditional pathology, but with the third dimension.

The researchers characterized the structures of normal, benign, and malignant cells using the Cell-CT platform. Their key findings were published in a recent issue of the journal PLoS ONE. Distinct structural signatures for each of the three types of cells were identified along with 42 distinct morphological and textural descriptors of cellular and nuclear structures. While a significant amount of work remains to fully validate this novel approach to breast cancer detection, it would appear to be a promising start for the Cell-CT technology.


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

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