Then and Now: Evolution of a Miniature Mesh

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grayscale meshwork with gaps

John Burpo, Angela Belcher

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grayscale meshwork with gaps

John Burpo, Angela Belcher
Koch Institute at MIT

This micrograph of genetically altered viruses appeared in the first-ever Image Awards exhibition. Belcher Lab researchers were studying the assembly’s structural properties, with an eye toward medical applications to complement their existing energy technologies, such as solar panels and electrodes.

In the ten years since, they have used the engineered viruses to assemble cancer detection probes, imaging systems for diagnostics and real-time guided surgery, and more. Incorporating dyes, fluorescent nanotubes, and other materials, the group is moving safe, low-cost, highly sensitive solutions toward the clinic while revealing the hidden depths of tumor cells and illuminating new insights into cancer.    

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Professor Angela Belcher takes viewers on a tour of her lab's research with the M13 bacteriophage, reflecting on progress from the Koch Institute's early days—when this image was first created—to present day.