Shape Shifters: Cancer Cells in Motion

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Claudia Schafer and Frank Gertler

This image shows how cancer cells move over time. It is generated from a movie by overlaying all time points of the movie into one picture.

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Claudia Schafer, Frank Gertler
Koch Institute at MIT

These metastatic lung cancer cells are showing their true nature as they wander around the dish. Images taken ten minutes apart over the course of 16 hours are stacked atop each other to create a composite image. Researchers in the Gertler Lab are studying how different levels of proteins expressed by the cells affect their shape and motion.

Take a look—can you trace the pathways? Are the cells moving slowly or quickly? Do they change shape or stay round? How do they compare to each other?

Watch

Claudia Schafer shares the story and science behind her award-winning image. You can also watch the presentation from the exhibition opening event on March 23, 2017 here.