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Spatial maps of genetically diverse breast cancer cells
The generation of spatial maps that detail molecular and genetic information for the diverse cells and tissue environment of breast tumours offers insight into the factors that drive cancer progression.
Ghamdan Al-Eryani is at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research Darlinghurst, New South Wales 2010, Australia, and at the School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia.
Alexander Swarbrick is at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research Darlinghurst, New South Wales 2010, Australia, and at the School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia.
As a cancer grows and changes, its cellular lineages evolve through mechanisms that echo the evolutionary steps that give rise to new species. Although cancers are thought to emerge from a single cell, multiple rounds of division, mutation and natural selection promote cellular diversification, resulting in a tumour lineage that forms a ‘tree’ of genetically related, yet distinct, populations of cells called subclones1. These lineages were initially thought to function in a relatively independent manner. However, it is now known that subclones interact with a diverse array of adjacent components that include immune cells, connective-tissue cells and a mesh of protein structures, which together form a complex ecosystem called the tumour microenvironment (TME)2. How different cancer subclones emerge, interact with each other, and shape and are shaped by the TME, remains to be fully understood.