Sphere, There, and Everywhere: Interrogating Tiny Tumors


This image, submitted by Alexandre Albanese, shows close encounters of the third dimension.


Alexandre Albanese, Jeffrey Wyckoff, Sangeeta Bhatia
Koch Institute at MIT

Cancer cell experiments fall flat at the bottom of a Petri dish. This image shows three spherical clusters of cancer cells (blue/white dots) implanted in a three-dimensional matrix of protein fibers (white strands).

These tiny tumors allow researchers to understand how small metastases interact with their surrounding environment, and to evaluate the delivery of drug-loaded nanoparticles. The use of spheroids rather than isolated cells offers a more well-rounded picture of the challenges researchers must overcome to detect and treat cancer.


Alex Albanese shares the story behind his award-winning image.