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Building a 'Google Earth' of cancer

The Rosetta project

Find out more about the Rosetta project

Using the best imaging techniques to understand cancer

The team uses a variety of new mass spectrometry imaging techniques and instruments they've developed to study individual breast, bowel and pancreatic tumours; the cancers where they believe they can make the biggest difference, fastest.

From the whole tumour right down to the individual fats and proteins in cells (the metabolites), to the tumour microenvironment, they will map and visualise every bit of these tumours to create faithful 3D representations of them for the first time.

By doing this, they aim to create the equivalent of a 'Google Earth' that will allow you not only to identify a house and where it is in a country, but also who's inside, what they're eating and watching on TV.

By creating such detailed representations of these tumours, our understanding of cancer will improve and we will be able to identify new and better ways to diagnose and treat the disease.

The team will also create a database containing their data which will be available to researchers around the globe, and strive to create a standardised way for other scientists and doctors to use these new techniques in their work and in the clinic to help them look at other cancers in the same way and speed up progress against the disease.

Thanks to Grand Challenge, we've been able to build a collective force of physicists, chemists and biologists – all coming together for the first time to map cancer in unprecedented detail. Our goal is to find out how tumours survive and why they keep growing. By applying our powerful analysis techniques to this problem, we want to gain new insight into these fundamental processes and develop new and better ways to diagnose and treat cancer

Dr Josephine Bunch - Lead Investigator, NPL

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