Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mini Missiles
05 August 2012

Mini Missiles

In the game Angry Birds, destroying the evil pigs’ fortress isn’t always straightforward. Often, rather than attacking the tough exterior, it’s best to launch a bird through tiny gaps in the walls and strike at the heart of the problem. But then, which bird to choose? Cancer biologists are experimenting with ways to shoot drug carriers through small holes in the walls of tumours. Here are depicted tiny spherical containers called micelles injected into the blood vessels supplying the tumour of a mouse. Differently-sized micelles are stained green (each measuring 3/100,000 cm across) and red (7/100,000 cm across) giving the vessel a bright yellow appearance. Only the green micelles are small enough to fly through the holes in the tumour wall and spread out fully into the cancer. Tiny micelles might one day be used to deliver a chemotherapy payload straight into the heart of human cancers.

Written by John Ankers

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