Blood, Heat, and Tumors: Improving Drug Delivery with Gold Nanorods

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This image, submitted by Alex Bagley, shows gold nanorods in a living tumor.

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Alex Bagley, Jeff Wyckoff, Sangeeta Bhatia
Bhatia Laboratory
MIT Koch Institute

Blood vessels are highways through the body. They can transport drugs to cancer cells, but finding the appropriate ramp to exit the vessel can be tricky.

This image shows a network of blood vessels (green) and collagen (purple) infused with gold nanorods (yellow) inside a living tumor. When researchers heat the particles with near-infrared light, the blood vessels become leaky, making it easier to deliver a therapeutic cargo to its final destination. Because blood vessels provide a universal transport system, such combination therapy has widespread implications for treatment, regardless of cancer type or specific drug needed.

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Alex Bagley shares further insight into the story behind his award-winning image.

You can also watch his presentation from the exhibition's opening event here.