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 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ 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
Counting Cancer-busting Oxygen Molecules
Researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), an Australian Research Centre of Excellence, have shown that nanoparticles used in combination with X-rays, are a viable method for killing cancer cells deep within the living body.
Genomic Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer
National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a striking signature in tumor DNA that occurs in five different types of cancer.
Crowdfunding the Fight Against Cancer
From budding social causes to groundbreaking businesses to the next big band, crowdfunding has helped connect countless worthy projects with like-minded people willing to support their efforts, even in small ways. But could crowdfunding help fight cancer?
"Gene Fusion" Drives Childhood Brain Cancers
Study co-led by Penn scientists highlights potential targets for future cancer therapies.
Head Injury Patients Develop Brain Clumps Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists have revealed that protein clumps associated with Alzheimer's disease are also found in the brains of people who have had a head injury.
New Way to Identify Brain Tumor Aggressiveness
Looking at a brain tumor’s epigenetic signature may help guide therapy.
OncoCyte, The Wistar Institute Enter Global Licensing Agreement
Exclusive rights to commercialize biomarker assay follows years of positive collaboration on lung cancer diagnostic test.
Easier Diagnosis for Fungal Infection of the Lungs
A new clinical imaging method developed in collaboration with a University of Exeter academic may enable doctors to tackle one of the main killers of patients with weakened immune systems sooner and more effectively.
Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing
A team of biologists and biomedical researchers at UC San Diego has developed a new method to determine if bacteria are susceptible to antibiotics within a few hours, an advance that could slow the appearance of drug resistance and allow doctors to more rapidly identify the appropriate treatment for patients with life threatening bacterial infections.
Spotlight on Acoustic Liquid Handling
Journal of Laboratory Automation special issue highlights how acoustic liquid handling enables breakthrough innovations.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!