Using Human Tissue to Study Human Cancer Cell Invasion

The Neurogenesis and Brain Tumors Laboratory has established a novel ex vivo method — the organotypic cell migration model — to study the invasion of human cancer cells in human brain tissue using intraoperative samples. The lab is now using this model to study brain cancer.

The organotypic cell migration model emulates important characteristics of brain tumor microenvironments at different areas and stages of the disease, providing the closest representation of human cancer cell migration outside of a living person. The capability to re-create real-world conditions and events in patients' brains is a cutting-edge tool to advance knowledge about brain tumors.

Invasion of the functional tissue (parenchyma) of the brain by tumor cells is the main reason for tumor recurrence. These invasive cells make complete surgical resection impossible. However, the lab's organotypic cell migration model allows researchers to observe the invasion patterns of glioblastoma cells beyond tumor boundaries under atmospheric, normal and low oxygen tensions, using real-time video microscopy.

Explore images and videos of glioblastoma cell migration and neural progenitor cell migration produced by the Neurogenesis and Brain Tumors Lab.

The results of this research will provide numerous applications including studies leading to more-personalized treatments for each patient.

Project team

Lab members and collaborators studying how brain cancer cells can be studied in human tissue include: