License to Kill: Empowering the Immune System to Fight Cancer


This image, submitted by Sudha Kumari and Yiran Zheng of the Irvine Laboratory at the Koch Institute, shows nanoparticle-laden T cells attacking melanoma tumor cells.


Sudha Kumari & Yiran Zhang
Irvine Laboratory, MIT Koch Institute

Tumors, beware! Laboratory researchers are reprogramming T cells (a key element of the body’s immune system) to improve their ability to recognize and destroy cancerous invaders.

In this image, nanoparticle-laden T cells approach and attach to melanoma tumor cells (green), inhibiting their ability to grow. When the particles (yellow) are released, they send signals to surrounding T cells, encouraging them to join the biological battle and wipe out the enemy. Compare the sizes of the two cancer cells—which one is actively under attack?

Learn more about this research here.


Immunologist Sudha Kumari and nanotechnology engineer Yiran Zheng presents the story behind "License to Kill."

You can also watch Sudha's presentation at the 2015 Image Awards exhibition opening event on March 10, 2015 and the image's social media teaser video on the Koch Institute's Facebook page.