The size and precision af a tissue sample has always been a concern. As it has become possible to analyze smaller and smaller samples with molecular techniques, one must be increasingly concerned that the sample is what we think it is. So how do you dissect out a specific cell or a small group of cells? Whereas several techniques have been suggested, a group at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have come up with an ingenious solution. Robert Bonner, Michael Emmert-Buck, Kristina Cole, Thomas Pohida, Rodrigo Chuaqui, Seth Goldstein, and Lance Liotta have published a technique they have termed Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM).
With LCM, Bonner et. al. have demonstrated that a specific cell can be identified and transferred to an appropriate container for molecular analysis. Using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the genetic material from a single cell can be amplified for analysis. However, data from several cells (about 20) needs to be examined so that variations in the cell cycle, etc., can be averaged.