Research highlight

Imaging: Watching anti-cancer drugs in action

Nature Communications

February 20, 2013

An insight into the subcellular distribution of drugs in living animals is reported in a study published in Nature Communications this week. These findings may help in improving our understanding of how drugs disperse and work in the body.

Current models describing the distribution of drugs in the body lack cellular resolution and cannot account for differences in single-cell behaviour, which may arise from genetic properties or interactions between neighbouring cells. Using a combined intravital imaging and modelling approach, Ralph Weissleder and collaborators analyze the distribution of a fluorescent analogue of the anti-cancer drug olaparib over time within mouse tumour cells. The authors compare their findings to similar situations in humans, and suggest that their work may provide clues as to why olaparib was ineffective in recent clinical trials.

The authors believe their high-resolution approach can be applied to other drugs and may be useful for understanding drug action in the context of various diseases.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2506

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