Cancer can spread from a primary tumor to other organs by releasing cells into the blood vessels. These cancer cells can lodge in capillaries of other organs. Occasionally, these cells can migrate out of the blood vessel into the tissue and start a new tumor.
We use multiphoton microscopy to study both ends of the metastatic process. We image primary tumors in the intestine to understand how and why primary tumor cells escape into the vasculature. We also inject cancer cells into the arteries that lead to the brain to study how these cells invade from the blood vessels into the brain tissue.