F A S C I N A T I N G Development involves mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels to arrive at the complex anatomical and physiological structure of an organism. The study of development can shed light into the processes of many diseases that afflict people worldwide.
Reblogged from bbsrc  1,106 notes

bbsrc:

The secrets of cell development

Amazingly, all the cells in our body have exactly the same DNA and yet still manage to be completely different and carry out different jobs, from pumping our hearts to fighting off infections!

We have epigenetic marks to thank for this. Epigenetic marks (special molecules that attach at certain areas of the DNA) control how a DNA sequence is read and provide a mechanism for cell memory, without affecting the DNA sequence itself. These marks allow cells to interpret the uniform genetic information in different ways, by switching different genes on or off. The marks also help cells to remember which genes should be on and off and they can also pass this information onto other cells during cell division.

Without these epigenetic mechanisms cells would lose their identity, and to some extent that is what happens in diseases like cancer.

BBSRC-funded Professor Wolf Reik and Dr Fatima Santos, from the University Of Cambridge and The Babraham Institute, are studying stem cells, like the cells above, to find out more about epigenetic information: research which is providing us with new approaches to improve the potential of stem cells for regenerative medicine.

Image credits: Dr Fatima Santos

Read more: http://www.epigenesys.eu/en/

Read more: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/people-skills-training/2014/140612-f-gb-bioscience-pioneers-wolf-reik.aspx

Reblogged from bpod-mrc  104 notes
bpod-mrc:

10 September 2014
Stem Cell Supporters
The secrets of the stem cell have long been elusive. But now, with the help of zebrafish (an embryonic fish pictured), we are unravelling their mysteries. Zebrafish larvae are incredibly useful as not only do they make stem cells in the same way as humans, but they’re also free-swimming and transparent, making them easy to study in the lab. Scientists observed that in zebrafish, an important type of stem cell known as a haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) needed a helpful hand from endotome cells – a kind of embryo cell that act as cushions to help HSCs form. As HSCs have the ability to differentiate into many of the body’s different cell types, this finding is a step forward for stem cell research; it could lead to making HSCs in the lab that could be used to treat conditions such as degenerative disorders and spinal cord injuries.
Written by Faiza Peeran
—
Image by Annie Cavanagh and David McCarthy from the Wellcome Image Awards 2014Originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)Research published in Nature, August 2014
—
You can also follow BPoD on Twitter and Facebook

bpod-mrc:

10 September 2014

Stem Cell Supporters

The secrets of the stem cell have long been elusive. But now, with the help of zebrafish (an embryonic fish pictured), we are unravelling their mysteries. Zebrafish larvae are incredibly useful as not only do they make stem cells in the same way as humans, but they’re also free-swimming and transparent, making them easy to study in the lab. Scientists observed that in zebrafish, an important type of stem cell known as a haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) needed a helpful hand from endotome cells – a kind of embryo cell that act as cushions to help HSCs form. As HSCs have the ability to differentiate into many of the body’s different cell types, this finding is a step forward for stem cell research; it could lead to making HSCs in the lab that could be used to treat conditions such as degenerative disorders and spinal cord injuries.

Written by Faiza Peeran

Image by Annie Cavanagh and David McCarthy from the Wellcome Image Awards 2014
Originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)
Research published in Nature, August 2014

You can also follow BPoD on Twitter and Facebook

Reblogged from biocanvas  246 notes
biocanvas:

Vascular smooth muscle cells
Our hearts pump some 50 million gallons of blood in our lifetime, and our arteries take a beating because of it. Arteries have the critical task of withstanding the high blood pressure that comes with each heart stroke. To do this, arteries are lined with thick vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that contract and relax to control blood pressure and secrete proteins to cushion against each and every heartbeat. In this image, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into VSMCs as shown by smooth muscle-specific markers in red and green. Creating VSMCs will be useful to study vascular abnormalities found in several diseases, including muscular dystrophy.
Image by Leslie Caron.

biocanvas:

Vascular smooth muscle cells

Our hearts pump some 50 million gallons of blood in our lifetime, and our arteries take a beating because of it. Arteries have the critical task of withstanding the high blood pressure that comes with each heart stroke. To do this, arteries are lined with thick vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that contract and relax to control blood pressure and secrete proteins to cushion against each and every heartbeat. In this image, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into VSMCs as shown by smooth muscle-specific markers in red and green. Creating VSMCs will be useful to study vascular abnormalities found in several diseases, including muscular dystrophy.

Image by Leslie Caron.

Reblogged from sciencesourceimages  94 notes

sciencesourceimages:

I’ve Got Rocks In My Head…

…and so do all of you. The image at the top is a colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of crystals of calcium carbonate on the surface of an otolith. They are the “balancing stones” of the inner ear and are found in our Acoustic Macula.

See more images of the Acoustic Macula

The acoustic macula is responsible for our static equilibrium (position of the head) and participates in dynamic equilibrium (recognition of the linear accelerations). Located at the level of the inner ear, the macula is composed of hair cells (in orange), constituting the sensorial receptors, and of supporting cells (in pink). Each hair cell possesses between 40 to 70 stereocilia and a single kinocilium.

See SEMs of Inner Ear Hair Cells

The supporting cells secrete a gelatinous substance forming the otolithic membrane, in which embed the stereocilia and kinocilia. This membrane is covered with a layer of those calcium carbonate crystals (shown at top). Each hair cell forms a synapse with a sensitive neuron (in yellow) and a motor neuron (in green) of the vestibular branch of the auditory nerve.

See more images of the Inner Ear

During a sharp acceleration leading the head forward (during the ascension in the roller coaster, for example), the inertia causes a sliding movement backwards of the otolithic membrane and the otoliths, that move the stereocilia and kinocilia with them. This leads to a stimulation of the vestibular nerve, enabling the recognition of the movement. 

What would a trip to an amusement park be without your inner ear?!

All images © Science Source