Intravital imaging and its impact on cancer research in the past, present and future
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The molecular processes underlying cancer have been subject to extensive research for many years. While substantial progress has been made, the overall understanding of the complex and dynamic disease remains incomplete, and key relationships remain unelucidated as traditional research methods exhaust their limits. Intravital microscopy has proven powerful in overcoming these boundaries. The technique which was first described in the mid-nineteenth century allows direct observation of dynamic processes in living organisms. Recent developments in fluorescent technology, genetic engineering of model organisms and microscopy have revolutionized intravital imaging and boosted its popularity. In the past few years, cancer-related intravital microscopy studies have mushroomed, exploiting the unique possibilities that the technique offers, such as real-time single cell tracking in vivo. The rapid developments taking place in the field of intravital microscopy predict a fruitful future for cancer research.