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Mouse embryonic brain tissue containing neural stem cells
Currently in the United States, there are over 4,500 clinical trails in progress testing the therapeutic benefits of stem cells. Just as Olympic athletes train to specialize in one sport, so too do adult stem cells: They are cells that can specialize to become specific cell types depending on their tissue of origin. In the brain, neural stem cells give rise to neurons and helper cells in the central nervous system. Clinical trials are now underway to either activate the small number of neural stem cells present in our brains or to supply neural stem cells that were cultured in a dish to repair damage due to injury or disease.
Image by Dr. Andrew Woolley and Dr. Aaron Gilmour, University of New South Wales.

Mouse embryonic brain tissue containing neural stem cells

Currently in the United States, there are over 4,500 clinical trails in progress testing the therapeutic benefits of stem cells. Just as Olympic athletes train to specialize in one sport, so too do adult stem cells: They are cells that can specialize to become specific cell types depending on their tissue of origin. In the brain, neural stem cells give rise to neurons and helper cells in the central nervous system. Clinical trials are now underway to either activate the small number of neural stem cells present in our brains or to supply neural stem cells that were cultured in a dish to repair damage due to injury or disease.

Image by Dr. Andrew Woolley and Dr. Aaron Gilmour, University of New South Wales.

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Neurons in a zebrafish embryo
Zebrafish have proven invaluable for understanding what we know about nerves and the brain. Observing brain development and interrogating how growing neurons find their correct targets are possible thanks to the transparent, genetically malleable nature of zebrafish embryos. Recently, scientists have developed a technique called “Brainbow" that individually colors each neuron, allowing researchers to map the start and end points of neural circuits. Applying Brainbow to zebrafish will allow researchers to visualize how neurons connect with one another during development and how different diseases disrupt this process.
Image by Dr. Albert Pan, Harvard University.

Neurons in a zebrafish embryo

Zebrafish have proven invaluable for understanding what we know about nerves and the brain. Observing brain development and interrogating how growing neurons find their correct targets are possible thanks to the transparent, genetically malleable nature of zebrafish embryos. Recently, scientists have developed a technique called “Brainbow" that individually colors each neuron, allowing researchers to map the start and end points of neural circuits. Applying Brainbow to zebrafish will allow researchers to visualize how neurons connect with one another during development and how different diseases disrupt this process.

Image by Dr. Albert Pan, Harvard University.

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Breathing tubes of a silkworm
A silkworm is the caterpillar of the domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori. Domesticated silkworms are entirely dependent on humans for survival, where they are mass bred to produce silk. The silk from Bombyx mori is more fragile and delicate than spider silk, which is five times stronger than steel but harder to obtain than its silkworm counterpart. Scientists in Japan have recently introduced a gene encoding spider silk into silkworms, producing silk that is 50% stronger and could be invaluable in manufacturing protective suits and better surgical sutures.
Image by Michael Gibson.

Breathing tubes of a silkworm

A silkworm is the caterpillar of the domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori. Domesticated silkworms are entirely dependent on humans for survival, where they are mass bred to produce silk. The silk from Bombyx mori is more fragile and delicate than spider silk, which is five times stronger than steel but harder to obtain than its silkworm counterpart. Scientists in Japan have recently introduced a gene encoding spider silk into silkworms, producing silk that is 50% stronger and could be invaluable in manufacturing protective suits and better surgical sutures.

Image by Michael Gibson.

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Vasculature of a mouse placenta
In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in young children, and leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens. Blood stem cells located deep within the bone marrow normally balance the production of blood cells and immune cells, but in patients with leukemia, these stem cells produce a high amount of abnormal white blood cells, eventually clogging up the bone marrow so that it can no longer produce healthy cells. Current research is looking for ways to replace damaged stem cells with healthy ones. The vasculature of the placenta has been recently identified as a novel location where blood stem cells are made and may be a future source of stem cells for replacement.
President Obama has recently designated September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in remembrance of lives lost to pediatric cancer and in hopes of advancing research for new treatment options.
Image by Amanda Phillips-Yzaguirre, University of Pennsylvania.

Vasculature of a mouse placenta

In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in young children, and leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens. Blood stem cells located deep within the bone marrow normally balance the production of blood cells and immune cells, but in patients with leukemia, these stem cells produce a high amount of abnormal white blood cells, eventually clogging up the bone marrow so that it can no longer produce healthy cells. Current research is looking for ways to replace damaged stem cells with healthy ones. The vasculature of the placenta has been recently identified as a novel location where blood stem cells are made and may be a future source of stem cells for replacement.

President Obama has recently designated September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in remembrance of lives lost to pediatric cancer and in hopes of advancing research for new treatment options.

Image by Amanda Phillips-Yzaguirre, University of Pennsylvania.

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Prostate cancer masses
Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed type of cancer (skin cancer is first), and 15% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Research has long used cancer cell lines growing on a flat surface to study abnormal cell behavior, but cells on a 2D surface differ considerably from the 3D structure of tissues and tumors as they exist in the body. Recent research has moved towards studying cancer cell lines in a 3D matrix model, allowing scientists to reveal the complex interactions that better mimic tumor growth and dynamics as they actually occur in tissues.
Image by Dr. Louisa Windus, Griffith University, Australia.

Prostate cancer masses

Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed type of cancer (skin cancer is first), and 15% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Research has long used cancer cell lines growing on a flat surface to study abnormal cell behavior, but cells on a 2D surface differ considerably from the 3D structure of tissues and tumors as they exist in the body. Recent research has moved towards studying cancer cell lines in a 3D matrix model, allowing scientists to reveal the complex interactions that better mimic tumor growth and dynamics as they actually occur in tissues.

Image by Dr. Louisa Windus, Griffith University, Australia.

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Rotifers
Rotifers are tiny multicellular organisms found commonly in freshwater environments around the world. They are largely considered to be the smallest animals on Earth, composed of over 1,000 cells complete with a full digestive system and jaws but only reaching the size of a microscopic amoeba. They can be found in the most extreme environments, including the Mojave Desert where they enter dormancy when their habitats dry up. Scientists in Antarctica have recently discovered single cell organisms existing deep below ice sheets, but they’re looking even harden to see if more complex creatures like rotifers have been able to survive without sunlight in sub-zero temperatures for nearly a million years.
Image by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus.

Rotifers

Rotifers are tiny multicellular organisms found commonly in freshwater environments around the world. They are largely considered to be the smallest animals on Earth, composed of over 1,000 cells complete with a full digestive system and jaws but only reaching the size of a microscopic amoeba. They can be found in the most extreme environments, including the Mojave Desert where they enter dormancy when their habitats dry up. Scientists in Antarctica have recently discovered single cell organisms existing deep below ice sheets, but they’re looking even harden to see if more complex creatures like rotifers have been able to survive without sunlight in sub-zero temperatures for nearly a million years.

Image by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus.

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