Cellular Injections: Using Nanowires to Investigate the Causes of Leukemia

This image, captured by Alex Shalek, Jellert Gaublomme, and Hongkun Park, shows nanoscale wires being used to experiment on leukemia cells.

Alex K. Shalek, Jellert T. Gaublomme, Hongkun Park
Harvard University, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Many terrible modern diseases, including AIDS and leukemia, affect the cells of the immune system – the body’s natural defenders. Understanding and combating these diseases has been extremely difficult, in part because immune cells are resistant to the strategies conventionally used for interrogating the inner workings of cells. Here, researchers have developed a clever solution: they use tiny needles to inject compounds into immune cells from leukemia patients so that they can identify what drives these cancers and how they can be better treated.

Alex Shalek tells the story behind his award-winning image.