Confocal micrograph of highly invasive tumour cells derived from a rare paediatric brain tumour. Cells were derived from the biopsy of a 10-year-old female patient, taken from the left thalamic tumour and diagnosed as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In order to better understand how these tumour cells invade normal brain tissue, small clusters of tumour cells were grown in an artificial semi-solid substrate to mimic their spread in the patient. Fluorescently labelled antibodies were used to detect two proteins of interest, nestin (green) which is commonly found in these tumour cells but not in normal adult cells, and glial fibrillary protein (GFAP; red), which is found in many normal cells in the central nervous system. A sub-population of these cells (yellow) express both proteins. Cell nuclei were stained with DAPI to label DNA (blue). The most aggressive cells are those with high levels of nestin which have formed clear clusters in the centre (fascicules; centre right of image). The prognosis for these young patients is currently poor so research is focused towards better understanding the invasive nature of these tumours, in order to find effective treatments for this aggressive brain cancer. Width of image is approximately 640 micrometres.
Biopsy specimen was provided by Dr Andrew Moore of the Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute.