An important weapon in the fight against cancer is inside our own bodies, but we don't know how to fully unleash it. For many years researchers have been trying to harness our immune system's ability to kill cancer cells, but although there have been some promising results, progress has been slow. Researchers are now turning to nanoparticles to directly target tumours with molecules that attract the attention of the immune system. Just half an hour after being injected into a mouse, tiny nanoparticles (coloured green) can be seen coursing through the blood vessels in a melanoma tumour. Once in place, the nanoparticles deliver their deadly payload – one drug that triggers immune cells to attack the cancer, and another that switches off signals that normally damps down the immune response. Together they make a potent combination that could translate into an important future treatment for patients.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.