Childhood Cancer

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Multiplex Ion Beam Imaging of Pediatric Cancers

Institution: 
Stanford University School of Medicine
Researcher(s): 
Crystal L. Mackall, MD
Grant Type: 
Crazy 8
Year Awarded: 
2019
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

Co-Principal Investigator

Kara Davis, DO, Stanford University

Co-Investigators

John M. Maris, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Michael R. Angelo, MD/PhD, Stanford University

Project Summary

A cancerous tumor is made up of many different types of cells, including the cancer cells themselves as well as numerous other non-cancerous cells that come together to provide a “microenvironment.” The tumor cells play an active role in creating a tumor microenvironment (TME) that aids tumor cell growth and survival. Some of the elements of the TME include blood vessels, immune cells that are programmed to avoid killing the tumor but instead allow the tumor to invade normal tissues, fibrous tissue that create a barrier to killer immune cell entry and numerous types of cell populations. Scientists are increasingly recognizing the importance of studying the TME and the interactions between the tumor cells and the various elements in the TME in order to fully understand the inner workings of cancer. Technologies that can allow scientists to visualize the entirety of the tumor in a way that can fully illustrate the complexity and diversity of cellular and non-cellular components have not previously been available. This project will use a new technology, called “multiplex ion beam imaging” (MIBI), which is capable of visualizing essentially all of the elements present within the TME at the same time.

The technology has not previously been used to study pediatric cancers and will provide important new insights regarding targets for immune therapies and understanding how pediatric tumors recruit non-malignant cells to help them grow and survive. MIBI will also enable more complete profiling of the tumor cells themselves, which will help identify targets for use in immunotherapy.