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Impaired coordination between signaling pathways is revealed in human colorectal cancer using single-cell mass cytometry of archival tissue blocks

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Science Signaling  11 Oct 2016:
Vol. 9, Issue 449, pp. rs11
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aah4413

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Detecting intratumoral heterogeneity in the clinic

The clinical approach to treating cancer has become more patient-directed, because tumors of the same tissue type can vary considerably between patients. Analysis of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue currently provides tissue-level data to inform the therapeutic strategy. However, these techniques miss the heterogeneity between cells within the same tumor; thus, an indicated strategy may kill some portions of the tumor (but not the entire tumor), and clinicians and patients must constantly fight new tumor growth. Simmons et al. developed a technique that provides single-cell–level data from clinical FFPE samples. Using this technique, called FFPE-DISSECT, the authors found distinct signaling profiles in different cells of the proliferative colon crypt and additional differences in the ways in which these profiles were disrupted in malignant crypt cells. This approach may enable more effective early treatment strategies and ultimately better outcomes for patients.

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