Imaging Cancer Tissue One Chemical At A Time

Since listening to a Gordon Research Conference talk several years ago, I have been simply amazed by the applications developing with use of the mass spectrometer. Imagine being able to ‘see’ a specimen or tissue without use of any lenses or cameras. Not only ‘see’ it but also know the chemical makeup of each point at high resolution.

A new study published online for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains the application of mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) to cancer tissue. Researchers at the Imperial College London have described a process to make this more applicable in a clinical setting without waiting weeks for a histological assessment by a specialist. This new technique will move cancer histology from the analog to digital age by identifying the actual chemicals within a sample instead of relying on structure.


Chemo-informatic strategy for imaging mass spectrometry-based hyperspectral profiling of lipid signatures in colorectal cancer. Veselkob et al. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1310524111

3 thoughts on “Imaging Cancer Tissue One Chemical At A Time”

  1. Good to see this is something you follow as well and I completely concur, Matthew!
    MALDI Tissue Imaging (“Molecular Histology” or “Virtual Microscopy”) is indeed one of the great achievements within the Mass Spectrometry application developments that show enormous potential within medical and pharma environments. IMHO a great review (NOV 2011) of the pharmaceutical applications is written by the GSK team of Stephen Castellino about strategies to directly identifies drug distributions, spatially localized in tissue:

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