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Leica solution supports more realistic cancer research models

3D Cell Biology Workflow for tumor spheroid imaging with the SP8 DLS Digital LightSheet Microscope

Model of a 3D cell cluster we use to explain how the Leica light sheet technology helps researchers to elucidate cancer development on sub-cellular level by in-vivo like tumor spheroid models

The Leica light sheet solution TCS SP8 DLS offers a superior method for cancer researchers to study tumor models based on realistic living 3D specimens. It allows imaging of living tumor spheroids or organoids that gives new insights into true to nature cancer biology based on more realistic models compared to 2D cell culture. Scientist can track sub-cellular changes in cancer development in high resolution and 3D. The unique setup of the light sheet solution by Leica Microsystems allows to keep the specimen preparation for 3D simple and enables time efficient work.

“Our approach is to deliver a complete solution ranging from sample preparation to light-sheet microscopy and data analysis for the discovery of the tiniest details in tumor formation. This is the basis to better understand and hopefully cure cancer in the future.” says Dr. Falk Schlaudraff, Manager Workflow Management Team at Leica Microsystems. 

Cancer is the number one cause of death in the western world. A hallmark of cancer diseases is the uncontrolled division of cells. In vitro cancer research is widely performed with the help of cell culture systems, which are grown in 2D on the flat surface of cell culture vessels. These kinds of cell culture organizations are studied with the help of classical widefield or confocal microscopes. 

In contrast, the in vivo situation is often different, since naturally occurring tumors do not grow in form of a 2D monolayer, but in all three dimensions. To mimic such a 3D situation in the laboratory, cancer cells can be brought to grow in little spheres containing up to thousands of cells. These cell conglomerates are called spheroids (or organoids) and turned to state-of-the art research objects for cancer research. 
Sub-cellular imaging of live spheroids is a challenge due to the size of these objects. The according microscope needs a reasonable penetration into the specimen, high imaging speed and low excitation light intensity. The TCS SP8 DLS Digital LightSheet microscope from Leica fulfills these requirements.

Therefore, Leica Microsystems presents a workflow solution to image spheroids on a detailed sub-cellular level. The workflow stretches, starting from preparation and mounting of the spheroids through light sheet imaging to data analysis and sharing. Researchers will benefit from true to nature data by investigating 3D in place of 2D cell biology. Thereby, the TCS SP8 DLS allows using standard petri dishes instead of special capillaries used by other devices.