The image described in the video above won Liang Hao a Koch Institute Image Award. She works in a lab that focuses on the use of nanoparticles to combat cancer. Hao is especially interested in pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease, and several factors confound its treatment. One therapeutic hurdle is the stromal barrier, which can physically prevent nanoparticles from reaching their intended target. Hao is trying to meet that challenge.
She has helped to create nanoparticles that can locate cancer cells and deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to them. These nanoparticles have different parts that allow them to achieve these goals, as described. The image shows the nanoparticles in yellow, which are sitting in pancreatic cancer cell clusters that are stained in pink. The researchers are thus able to study this system in three dimensions. This work may be the first time that a nanoparticle has gotten into a cluster of cancer cells, and will help bring nanoparticle therapeutics closer to the bedside.