Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Molecular & Clinical Diagnostics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Astronomy Algorithms Help Diagnose Aggressive Tumors

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have honed techniques originally developed to spot distant galaxies and used them to identify biomarkers that signal a cancer’s aggressiveness among some 2,000 breast tumours.

The findings mean that the age-old practice of pathologists looking down the microscope to spot key differences in the staining of tumour samples could one day become a thing of the past.

To develop this new automated approach the researchers, from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, and the Department of Oncology and the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, adapted techniques used by astronomers to automatically pick out indistinct objects in the night sky.

They applied these to immunohistochemistry (IHC), which relies on pathologists being able to distinguish subtle differences in the staining of tumour cells down the microscope, depending on the specific proteins they express.

To road test the new approach they used it to measure the levels of three different proteins linked to more aggressive cancers, across tumour samples from more than 2,000 breast cancer patients.

They compared the accuracy of manually scoring these results, by observing the staining of the tumour samples down the microscope, versus relying on a computer to do this automatically. This showed that the new automated system was at least as accurate as the manual one, whilst at the same time being many times faster.

Study lead author Dr Raza Ali, a pathology fellow from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, said: “We’ve exploited the natural overlap between the techniques astronomers use to analyse deep sky images from the largest telescopes and the need to pinpoint subtle differences in the staining of tumour samples down the microscope.

“The results have been even better than we’d hoped, with our new automated approach performing with accuracy comparable to the time-consuming task of scoring images manually, after only relatively minor adjustments to the formula. We’re now planning a larger international study involving samples from more than 20,000 breast cancer patients to further refine our strategy.”

Senior author Professor Carlos Caldas, also from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, added:  “Modern techniques are giving us some of the first insights into the key genes and proteins important in predicting the success or failure of different cancer treatments. But before these can be applied in the clinic, their usefulness needs to be verified in hundreds or sometimes thousands of tumour samples. Already this new automated approach means we can now analyse up to 4,000 images a day, helping streamline the process of translating these discoveries into the clinic.”

Dr Nicholas Walton, from Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, said: “It’s great that our image analysis software, which was originally developed to help, for instance, track down planets harbouring life outside of our Solar system, is now also being used to help improve the outlook for cancer patients, much closer to home.”

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “This unlikely collaboration between astronomers and cancer researchers is a prime example of how, by working together, scientists from different disciplines can bring about innovative new solutions for beating cancer.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

‘Liquid Biopsies’ Could Help Spot Genetic Faults in Lung Cancer
Study analyze blood samples from 97 patients who took part in the EURTAC clinical trial.
Saturday, March 07, 2015
Cancer Cell Fingerprints in the Blood May Speed up Childhood Cancer Diagnosis
Researchers found unique molecular fingerprints for 11 types of children’s tumours, to develop blood tests to diagnose these cancers.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
immatics Enters Collaboration with Cancer Research UK to Develop Cancer Vaccine
Cancer Research UK will sponsor and conduct a Phase I trial of IMA950 for glioblastoma.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Scientific News
Grant Supports Project To Develop Simple Test To Screen For Cervical Cancer
UCLA Engineering announces funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Loss Of Y Chromosome Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Men with blood cells that do not carry the Y chromosome are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is in addition to an increased risk of death from other causes, including many cancers. These new findings by researchers at Uppsala University could lead to a simple test to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Making Virus Sensors Cheap and Simple
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin demonstrated the ability to detect single viruses in a solution containing murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV).
Heart Defect Prediction Technology Could Lead to Earlier, More Informed Treatment
Experimental method uses genetics-guided biomechanics, patient-specific stem cells.
Biosensor Detects Molecules Linked to Cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Novel biosensor has been proven capable of detecting molecules associated with neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer.
Big Data Can Save Lives
The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.
Fast, Simple Test for Colitis
A minimally invasive screening for ulcerative colitis using emerging infrared technology could be a rapid and cost-effective method for detecting disease that eliminates the need for biopsies and intrusive testing of the human body.
Scans Reveal Babies of Mothers with Gestational Diabetes Have More Body Fat
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes have more body fat at two months of age compared to babies born to healthy mothers.
New Device Could Improve Cancer Detection
UBC researchers develop a microfluidic device to capture circulating tumor cells.
Plasma Biomarkers for Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Plasma lipidomics profiling identified lipid biomarkers in distinguishing early-stage breast cancer from benign lesions.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!