Leica microscope report

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Leica microscope report - Cancer in Kids @ RCH - CIKA

The Leica microscope was purchased in May 2013 and immediately put to use to examine the morpholgy of cells derived from tumour biopsies. Here is the report on its first project.

The Leica microscope provides the best resolution we have yet had for the visualisation and characterisation of tumour biopsies and derived cell lines. Already since acquiring this system we have been able to explore the phenotype (physical characteristics) of twenty tumour-derived cell lines obtained from culturing of primary CNS tumour biopsies at the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane. Previous studies carried out in our lab had revealed a tremendous level of molecular difference between these cell lines and the primary tumour from which they were derived. This has profound implications for their future utility, given that the primary purpose of deriving such cell lines is to explore the potential of novel therapeutic agents to kill cancer cells.

Using the Leica microscope we have been able to demonstrate that 19/20 cell lines examined had cellular characteristics reminiscent of connective tissue (fibroblast) cells rather than neural type cell morphology. This would suggest that the cells grown in culture were actually derived from the supporting brain tissue (stromal cells) surrounding the tumour mass, rather than the tumour itself. This important piece of equipment has therefore helped us to understand why the majority of tumour-derived cell lines do not 'look like' primary tumour when examined at the molecular level. Importantly, it provides an additional screening step to ensure that we only test novel treatment approaches on those cell lines that really are tumour derived.

Our findings have been communicated to our colleagues in Queensland who are modifying their protocols for cell line generation accordingly to try to prevent stromal cells from taking over the tumour culturing in future.

The significant benefits to date arising from the use of the new Leica microscope for children at the RCH (Melbourne) is that we have been able to develop novel protocols for cell line generation from RCH tumour samples which will result in better quality pre clinical model cell lines for testing novel drug therapies on local samples.