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Cancer on Canvas
19 March 2018

Cancer on Canvas

Aiming to make sense of life and disease, scientists often look for patterns in groups of genes, or examine patient data found across the globe. Some take a completely fresh perspective. In this oil painting, “Looking forward”, cancer researcher Dhruba Deb, shares his interpretation of the spread of the disease. At the centre, healthy cells (green) send chemical, paracrine signals to invading red-coloured cancer cells. The scene captures the irony of cancer progression – immune cells (blue) aim to destroy the cancer, while the body tries to accommodate the cells’ demands – developing new blood vessels to support the cancer (known as angiogenesis, bottom left). The struggles between tumour cells and their environment present a puzzle that often weighs heavy on researchers’ minds. Perhaps few turn to fine art, but most are never far from a notebook and pen – scribbled diagrams that are as precious for clarity as the latest data analysis.

Written by John Ankers

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What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.