Mapping tumors at a genetic level is a new technique that allows researchers to study tumors in more detail. First of all, it provides scientists with a view of the tissue sample’s genetic changes without having to break them up. This gives them more accuracy when identifying mutated cells and what area of an organ they are located.
Scientists have called this new technique spatial transcriptomics. Developing this approach will have a lasting impact on our understanding of tumor growth and development. Specifically how they have changed at a genetic level over periods of time.
In this article, we are going to explore how this new technique is especially beneficial for prostate cancer patients.
Mapping tumors: Current techniques Vs. spatial transcriptomics
Usually, doctors study tumors or cancerous tissue by analyzing a given sample’s DNA. However, when analyzing prostate cancer tissue samples this isn’t quite enough. That is due to the fact that cancer, like in cases relevant to the prostate, is often 3-dimensional. This means when a doctor analyzes a prostate cancer sample, they are only getting a view on a limited plane, they can’t see the whole tumor.
Spatial transcriptomics, however, allows scientists mapping tumors to get a much more detailed view. In fact, this new technique can give them a view of the whole prostate with a cross-sectional view. Which in turn allows them to see both healthy and cancerous tissue.
This doesn’t just give more potential to diagnosis and treatment but also to future studies. For instance, comparing healthy tissues to cancerous ones so we can better understand how prostate cancer develops in the first place.
Actually, studies have already taken place taking advantage of mapping tumors genetically with spatial transcriptomics, and they’ve had great success. Some results have shown that seemingly healthy cells shared quite a few traits with cancerous ones genetically. This was unexpected due to the large variety of genetics in a tissue sample, and yet they held a significant amount of similar mutations.
Other potential uses for genetic mapping
Some scientists have even begun developing algorithms to undertake mass studies utilizing spatial transcriptomics. Allowing them to analyze many more tissue samples for varying types of cancer. This in turn would produce a plethora of data which could then be analyzed to further our understanding of cancer.
With this understanding, we could then go on to find new more effective treatments, both that may cure cancer with fewer secondary effects, and that may help us prevent the condition altogether. With a wider view of cancerous tissue’s ecosystem and environment, we can garner a much deeper understanding of the disease.
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