The National Cancer Institute’s Protein Expression Laboratory seeks parties to co-develop dual luminescent/fluorescent cancer biomarkers.
In research settings, visualization of tumors or tumor cells is often done using either bioluminescence or fluorescence. However, both of these methods have shortcomings: bioluminescence is not sensitive enough to sort individual tumor cells, and fluorescence cannot be used effectively to view internal tumors and is best used with surface tumors.
Researchers at NCI developed twelve lentiviral vectors that express both fluorescent and luminescent markers as a single fusion protein under various gene promoters. By combining the two reporters into a single fusion protein, the tumor can be visualized within the animal as well as sorted from non-tumor cells for post-necropsy experiments. The advantage of bioluminescent visualization allows for in vivo experiments that more closely simulate the biological development of tumors in organs, rather than at the skin surface. Additionally, since twelve different vectors with different gene promoters were constructed, they can be tested in individual tumor models to find the best vector for visualizing that particular tumor cell line. The vectors are able to sustain long-term expression of both visualization markers, depending on the cell type and promoter in each vector.