Tumors are highly heterogeneous structures. They are composed of tumor cells of course, but also consist of immune cells, blood vessels, etc. In addition, as tumors undergo an evolutionary process, clones of tumor cells with different mutational burden develop, proliferate and eventually give rise to new sub-clones. Understanding the complexity of a tumor is essential for diagnosis and therapy, as individual tumor clones will show different reactions during and after therapy. Moreover, it will help to develop novel biomarkers and to allow for precision medicine.
"Our translational cancer research within the Department of Pathology, led by Prof. Godfrey Grech, focuses on particular mechanisms of tumorigenesis for the identification of novel tumour biomarkers and therapeutics. Using a novel approach that utilises a custom-designed technique coupled with Laser Microdissection, we have successfully isolated and measured the RNA expression of specific cell populations from breast cancer tissues to support our investigations of underlying mechanisms.
The MMI CellCut enables us to selectively isolate specific tumour cell populations based on morphology from H&E stained FFPE sections for RNA analysis. Using this methodology, we have isolated distinct malignant clones within heterogeneous tumours as well as microdissected normal breast duct tissue to establish physiological expression levels. Based on gene expression, we classify breast cancer tumours to identify biomarkers towards novel effective therapeutics."
Grech Department of Pathology
Faculty of Medicine
University of Malta