Through the looking glass

Through the looking glass Art of Science 2022 artwork
Sabrina Lewis
Created | 2022

Despite significant advances, cancer researchers can feel as if they have a limited field of view when it comes to understanding how breast cancer metastasises, spreading to distant organs.

Different cancer cells, with varying abilities to invade blood vessels and spread, come together to form a tumour. Sabrina’s kaleidoscopic image from a high-resolution microscope shows a tissue fragment 200 micrometres thick within a primary breast cancer tumour, part of a collaborative project with Dr Jean Berthelet of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.

Each splash of colour represents a unique cancer cell type, enabling researchers to track how these cancer cells move and which cells are more prone to metastasising.

Metastases significantly reduce a patient’s likelihood of survival. By better understanding how breast cancer cells spread, researchers hope to reverse these dire outcomes and create better therapeutic targets for patients who develop advanced disease.