Branching Out: New System Created by Rensselaer Researchers Speeds the Mapping of Blood Vessel Networks in Live Tumors
Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer researchers have developed an
automated system, called RPI-Trace3D, that can swiftly map
capillaries in a live tumor. What used to take days of manually
tracing the vessels, now takes two minutes. The diagnostic
tool, in use at Harvard Medical School and at Northeastern
University, is a boon to oncologists who aim to understand how
blood vessels form in tumors.
For the first time, medical scientists can quickly and
precisely measure blood vessel properties to quantify the
effects of various agents, such as new drugs, on capillary
growth. Preventing new capillaries from forming in abnormal
tissue by shutting off a tumor's blood supply (angiogenesis) is
a promising approach to fighting cancer.
The patent-pending RPI-Trace3D system was developed by a team
led by Badri Roysam, director of the Center for Subsurface
Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSISS) at Rensselaer.
Sophisticated microscopes connected to computers can now
generate complex 3-D images to allow scientists to peer deeper
inside live tumors. Until recently, such intricate images took
days to quantify because scientists had to manually trace the
vessels. Typically, the results were less than perfect. The
RPI-Trace3D system incorporated into the electronic microscopes
identifies and traces all the capillaries of a living tumor in
less than two minutes.
The system will significantly improve the search for better
cancer-fighting drugs, says Harvard Medical School's Edward
Brown, a researcher in the school's Department of Radiation
Oncology. Brown is using the mapping system in collaboration
with Northeastern University and other schools.
"The Rensselaer research team has generated truly impressive
algorithms that trace out all the vessels in a 3-D network, as
well as identify a number of properties of the vessels. This
allows us to quantify these vessels accurately for the first
time," Brown says.
Rensselaer graduate student Muhammad-Amri Abdul-Karim and
Rensselaer graduate Khalid Al-Kofahi are key members of the
"We are the only cancer research team in the world that uses a
rapid, fully automated, tracing algorithm to quickly obtain
measurements from 3-D blood vessel images," Abdul-Karim
Contact: Jodi Ackerman
Phone: (518) 276-6531