Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Blood and Bone
24 November 2016

Blood and Bone

One hope for beating cancer is that it tends to be predictable. In breast and liver cancers, cells seek out nurturing surroundings – places where nutrients are plentiful and neighbouring cells provide support and shelter. These tumour microenvironments can now be targeted with drugs. Unfortunately, T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the bone marrow, behaves differently. In this 3D picture of mouse bone marrow, blue, green cells surround purple blood vessels, creating different microenvironments. Surprisingly though, the cancer cells (yellow) aren’t restricted to any one area, and spread almost randomly through the tissue. This may explain why certain drugs don’t work when treating bone marrow cancers. Instead of finding hiding places inside the bone marrow, leukaemia cells may thrive by moving around and new therapies will focus on slowing them down.

Written by John Ankers

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