A tumour isn’t simply a lump of cancer cells. Behaving like a rogue organ, it corrupts healthy cells nearby to create a dysfunctional neighbourhood that helps it thrive. Researchers are investigating how these ‘good cells gone bad’ help tumours to resist the toxic effects of chemotherapy. It might explain why some drugs that seem promising when used on isolated cancer cells, don’t work so well in animal tests or clinical trials. These pictures show cells from mouse breast tumours at different stages – pre-cancerous (top row), early cancer (middle) and advanced cancer (bottom) – treated with different amounts of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. It kills all the different stage cancer cells (right column) in the lab but doesn’t work so well in advanced cancer in the whole animal. The 'bad neighbourhood' in the body must be helping the tumour to resist treatment.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) 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.