Investigating the Dynamics of Melanoma Angiogenesis with Multiphoton in vivo Microscopy

English Translation │ Anthony Sou
Photo │ Editorial Board with some provided by the interviewee

A research team in the Faculty of Health Sciences, led by Associate ProfessorLiu Tzu-Ming, is currently using multiphoton in vivo microscopy to study the dynamics of melanoma angiogenesis. The study aims to understand the neovascular permeability of tumour stem cells and provide guidance for producing nanomedicine of suitable sizes.

Melanoma is a type of cancer with high drug resistance and cannot be treated with general chemotherapy. Therefore, targeted therapy is usually mandatory in treating melanoma patients. ‘Nanomedicine allows cancer drugs to be contained inside a capsule. Like a car equipped with radar, the capsule is able to locate the tumour automatically and inject the drugs,’ says Prof Liu. The study has identified the collagen fibre and the vascular microenvironment of tumour stem cells, and has specified the measurement of nanomedicine at between 10 to 20 nm.

A fluorescence image of melanoma and a fluorescent image of macrophages

According to Prof Liu, cancer growth is in a sense analogous to germination. Seeds placed in different soil conditions will grow into plants of different shapes and change their surroundings. Cancer cells indifferent human bodies can also develop distinctive characteristics and shape the tissue environment around them into their own tumour microenvironment(or habitat). ‘In order to survive, cancer sometimes changes the structure of its environment to suit its expansion,’ says Prof Liu. ‘Investigations into how cancer transforms its environment can have implications for drug design and development.’

Prof Liu Tzu‑Ming observes the microenvironment of tumours through a multiphoton microscopy system platform

Prof Liu’s laboratory currently has two main research directions. One is to observe the microenvironment of tumours through the multiphoton microscopy system platform while paying special attention to the relationship between cancer cells and macrophages, in order to discover the pathology of tumours and assist drug design personnel in designing targeted drugs that can improve precision cancer medicine. The other direction is to develop a new blood fluorescence technology that can make early diagnosis of severe diseases, much like the weather forecast provides early warnings of bad weather.

ISSUE 22 | 2020

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A PhD graduate of Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Photonics and Optoelectronics, Prof Liu Tzu‑Ming has studied biomedical optics for many years. His current research interests include life sciences, ultrafast laser technology, using nanophotonics to study cancer biology, and creating new diagnostic and therapeutic uses of light.