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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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Human fibroblasts
Fibroblasts are cells that help maintain tissue structure by secreting proteins like collagen and elastin. Because they are easy to acquire and maintain in a laboratory, fibroblasts are one of the most common starting points for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are adult cells like fibroblasts that have been coaxed to return to a very early stem cell state. iPSCs have the potential to become almost any cell in the human body, making them prime candidates for regenerative medicine, but creating them is incredibly inefficient. To help generate iPSCs, recent research has looked towards separating out iPSCs based on how adhesive they are compared to other cells. In this image, fibroblasts (magenta) express a cell adhesion protein (green), which can be used to determine differences in stickiness between cells.
Image by Dr. Ankur Singh, Cornell University.

Human fibroblasts

Fibroblasts are cells that help maintain tissue structure by secreting proteins like collagen and elastin. Because they are easy to acquire and maintain in a laboratory, fibroblasts are one of the most common starting points for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are adult cells like fibroblasts that have been coaxed to return to a very early stem cell state. iPSCs have the potential to become almost any cell in the human body, making them prime candidates for regenerative medicine, but creating them is incredibly inefficient. To help generate iPSCs, recent research has looked towards separating out iPSCs based on how adhesive they are compared to other cells. In this image, fibroblasts (magenta) express a cell adhesion protein (green), which can be used to determine differences in stickiness between cells.

Image by Dr. Ankur Singh, Cornell University.

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Cactus roots at high magnification
Plants are active communicators capable of warning nearby plants of an impending insect infestation when they themselves are being eaten alive. They can also execute surprisingly sophisticated interpretations of their surroundings. Plants can compute their survival chances with a cost-benefit analysis of available resources. They can distinguish between positive and negative experiences and are even capable of forming memories from stressful events. They can recognize self vs. non-self, taking over territory from plants they deem weaker. As plants rapidly exchange chemicals and genetic material with other species, they constantly update their own behavior to better compete for light and food in order to survive.
Image by Matt Sharp.

Cactus roots at high magnification

Plants are active communicators capable of warning nearby plants of an impending insect infestation when they themselves are being eaten alive. They can also execute surprisingly sophisticated interpretations of their surroundings. Plants can compute their survival chances with a cost-benefit analysis of available resources. They can distinguish between positive and negative experiences and are even capable of forming memories from stressful events. They can recognize self vs. non-self, taking over territory from plants they deem weaker. As plants rapidly exchange chemicals and genetic material with other species, they constantly update their own behavior to better compete for light and food in order to survive.

Image by Matt Sharp.

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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.

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.

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Neuromuscular junctions in fruit flies
Our nerves send chemical signals to muscle fibers in order to stimulate muscle contraction, resulting in movement and locomotion. For this to happen, the ends of nerve fibers must be in very close proximity to the muscle—and we mean very close: The average space of a neuromuscular junction is just 30 nanometers, which is over 2,600-times smaller than the width of a human hair. In this neuromuscular junction of a fruit fly, nerve terminals (in red) can be seen intermingling with structural components (in green and blue). Diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy destabilize the structural integrity of neuromuscular junctions, greatly impairing muscle movement and strength.
Image by Vanessa Auld, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Neuromuscular junctions in fruit flies

Our nerves send chemical signals to muscle fibers in order to stimulate muscle contraction, resulting in movement and locomotion. For this to happen, the ends of nerve fibers must be in very close proximity to the muscle—and we mean very close: The average space of a neuromuscular junction is just 30 nanometers, which is over 2,600-times smaller than the width of a human hair. In this neuromuscular junction of a fruit fly, nerve terminals (in red) can be seen intermingling with structural components (in green and blue). Diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy destabilize the structural integrity of neuromuscular junctions, greatly impairing muscle movement and strength.

Image by Vanessa Auld, University of British Columbia, Canada.

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