The problem with cancer is not only that the cells have 'gone rogue' and are misbehaving. The abnormal environment in cancer tissues also gives the cancer an advantage in surviving and becoming more aggressive toward the patient. Several of our researchers are focused on the role of the tumour microenvironment in favouring tumour growth and metastasis, or spread. The picture here is the view down a microscope of a small ball of tumour cells - usually called a 'spheroid' - and shows how the cells develop into different regions because of their challenge of getting sufficient oxygen. The cells in these different areas show different susceptibilities to radiation and drugs, and in the deeper layers are conditioned to become more able to emigrate to other locations.
Image courtesy Jonathan Blay, Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada