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
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.