This image is reminiscent of the sorts of pictures made by laying paper onto oil paints floating in water. However, the reality is far less whimsical: it’s a breast cancer biopsy. And the striking colours are the result of algorithms not aesthetics. Biomarker imaging ratio microscopy (BRIM) is a new technology that combines imaging of disease-related molecules (or biomarkers) with computerised calculations that determine the quantity and ratio of those specific markers. The results enable researchers to distinguish aggressive forms of breast cancer from non-aggressive varieties. Patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – a common form of breast cancer – tend to be treated on the assumption that the cancer is invasive so as to be maximally cautious. Not all DCIS cases are aggressive, however, and it's hoped that BRIM might enable doctors to make more informed treatment decisions and possibly spare some women from unnecessarily aggressive treatment.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.