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Tumor cell lines: models for primary tumors? - A look through Darwin's eyes

In scientific research tumor cell lines are routinely used, which grow in Petri dishes since decades, and, thereby, have collected a considerable amount of genetic changes. What represents such a tumor cell line? Is it still a cellular model for the primary tumor - and, if so, to what extent? In order to answer such kind of questions we study, in cooperation with the Malteser Hospital Bonn/Rhein-Sieg, how primary SCLC cells evolve in vitro (Fig. 3). For this purpose, cells are analyzed on the DNA ("genomic fingerprinting") and protein level (changes and modifications in the expression pattern, such as the activation of intracellular signaling cascades) after appropriate culture periods; i.e. up to one year. In addition, alterations in cell behavior (apoptosis, proliferation, resistance patterns, etc.) are also investigated.

Figure 3: Primary tumor cells isolated from the malignant pleural fluid of cancer patients are propagated under standardized laboratory conditions for 12 months. At selected time points (T0 to T3) molecular and cellular analyses are performed.

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