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Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2004 Nov;4(6):831-40.

Laser capture microdissection, microarrays and the precise definition of a cancer cell.

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  • 1National Cancer Institute, Advanced Technology Center, Microarray Facility, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, USA. playera@mail.nih.gov


Most expression profiling studies of solid tumors have used biopsy samples containing large numbers of contaminating stromal and other cell types, thereby complicating any precise delineation of gene expression in nontumor versus tumor cell types. Combining laser capture microdissection, RNA amplification protocols, microarray technologies and our knowledge of the human genome sequence, it is possible to isolate pure populations of cells or even a single cell and interrogate the expression of thousands of sequences for the purpose of more precisely defining the biology of the tumor cell. Although many of the studies that currently allow for characterization of small sample preparations and single cells were performed utilizing noncancer cell types, and in some cases isolation protocols other than laser capture microdissection, a list of protocols are described that could be used for the expression analysis of individual tumor cells. Application of these experimental approaches to cancer studies may permit a more accurate definition of the biology of the cancer cell, so that ultimately, more specific targeted therapies can be developed.

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