A Dangerous Meeting: Blood Vessels and a Tumor Come Together

This image, captured by Tuomas Tammela, shows a lung tumor acquiring a supply of oxygen and nutrients.

Tuomas Tammela
Jacks Laboratory
Koch Institute at MIT

Tumors are hungry. They require large amounts of oxygen and nutrients to fuel their rapid growth. How do they acquire these resources? Here, a lung tumor (green) extends to the right, infiltrating healthy lung tissue that is rich in nutrient-carrying blood vessels (red). But the tumor does not simply move toward blood vessels; it also attracts them, sending out molecular signals that cause new blood vessels to sprout from existing ones. Researchers took this image to better understand the nature of such communications between cancer cells and blood vessels.

Tuomas Tammela tells the story behind his award-winning image.