NIH Research Festival
Clinically, most diagnoses of cancer are based upon biopsies sectioned into thin 2D slices and analyzed by pathologists. These slices provide information about pathology and specific biomarkers, but not the spatial organization of the 3D tumor microenvironment. Since tumors are heterogeneous, thin sections may fail to capture important spatial information crucial for selecting therapeutic approaches. In this study, we use the 4T1 mouse model, which mimics human triple negative breast cancer, which is notoriously hard to treat. The tumor microenvironment of this cancer is not fully understood and is often classified as an ‚Äúimmune desert‚Äù. Therefore, analyzing the spatial characteristics of the 3D tumor microenvironment is pivotal in assessing metabolism, oxygenation, nutrient status, and immune cell infiltration, all important for predicting patient outcomes. We hypothesize that increasing immune cell entry into ‚Äúimmune deserts‚Äù could improve patient outcomes. In the 4T1 mouse model, we studied the effects of different treatments on immune cell infiltration. Tumors from untreated and treated mice were collected, fixed, and sectioned into 200ÔÅ≠m slices, immuno-stained, cleared and imaged using confocal microscopy. This enabled measurement of distances between the cytotoxic T cells (CD8+ cells) and cancer cells with damaged DNA. The increased number of CD8+ cells in the tumor during treatment suggests enhanced immune cell entry into the tumor, indicating stronger immune response. Future investigations will explore drug therapies impacting the immune response after treatment.
Scientific Focus Area: Cancer Biology
This page was last updated on Monday, September 25, 2023