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Making a Difference

Mapping vessel growth in whole tumours reveals differences that could be exploited therapeutically

17 April 2019

Making a Difference

One of the challenges to treating cancer is that it's part of a supportive living body – welcoming blood vessels often reach out to feed the cancerous tissue, a process called angiogenesis. And just as each of our bodies develop differently, so do tumours, complicating the design of drugs, or surgical procedures. Here a new combination of 3D magnetic resonance microscopy and computer modelling investigates the differences, or heterogeneity, of three breast tumours growing in mice. The top row highlights different patterns of blood vessels in similar cancers, with regions of fast flowing blood highlighted in warm colours. Below, pinks and purples show the corresponding oxygen levels in the blood supply. Learning more about the haemodynamics of different tumours, may reveal more about what they have in common – creating a sort of ‘cancer atlas’ and identifying weaknesses for future therapies.

Written by John Ankers

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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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