Hungry Like the Macrophage: Empowering the Immune System to Eliminate Tumors


blue macrophages with orange cancer cells

This image, submitted by Ali Roghanian, visiting scientist in the Chen Lab at the Koch Institute, shows macrophages engulfing cancer cells.


blue macrophages with orange cancer cells

Ali Roghanian, Sonya James, Gessa Sugiyarto, Mark Cragg, Jianzhu Chen
University of Southampton and Koch Institute at MIT

Macrophages are the hungry hippos of the immune system. In this image, human macrophages (blue) have successfully engulfed tumor cells (orange) that have been flagged with a therapeutic antibody. However, even with these antibodies, cancer cells can hide from immune cells and suppress their appetite for destruction.

Researchers are working to improve treatment by stabilizing the antibodies on cancer cells, and are screening for different therapeutics that can activate macrophages to empower the body’s natural defense system against these treacherous cancer cells.

Learn more about the University of Southampton's work in cancer immunotherapy here. Work from this project was published in Cancer Immunology Research in 2019.


Ali Roghanian shares the story behind his award-winning image.