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Human immunodeficiency virus
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, in yellow) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In patients with AIDS, specific immune cells (such as T cells, in blue) die as the virus hijacks normal cellular machinery in order to replicate in vast numbers. Without proper immune function, patients become susceptible to otherwise innocuous infections that the body can no longer fight off. Recent research has turned to powerful computer systems to decrease the time it takes to find new HIV drugs from several years to just weeks, tremendously accelerating the drug discovery process.
Image by Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

Human immunodeficiency virus

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, in yellow) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In patients with AIDS, specific immune cells (such as T cells, in blue) die as the virus hijacks normal cellular machinery in order to replicate in vast numbers. Without proper immune function, patients become susceptible to otherwise innocuous infections that the body can no longer fight off. Recent research has turned to powerful computer systems to decrease the time it takes to find new HIV drugs from several years to just weeks, tremendously accelerating the drug discovery process.

Image by Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

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Developing zebrafish embryo

Our understanding of how animals grow from a single cell to billions of cells has benefited tremendously from the easy-to-visualize nature of zebrafish embryos. This video begins roughly two hours after a zebrafish egg has been fertilized and covers approximately 24 hours of the embryo’s life. In less than a day, the embryo will progress through dramatic changes in shape as cells move and specialize in a process called gastrulation. By 9 hours after fertilization, the rudimentary brain will start to thicken, and by 12 hours, premature eyes form. Muscular twitches begin and exaggerate from 20 hours onward before the heart even starts beating properly. Within three days from the start of its one-cell journey, the fish will reach the length of a sesame seed before swimming in search of food.

Video by Dr. Andrei Kobitski, Dr. Jens Otte and Dr. Johannes Stegmaier, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

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Tooth of a predatory marine snail
The predatory marine snail Conus ermineus lives in a shell between 2-4 inches in length. Like the barrel of a gun, Conus snails possess a battery of venom-loaded, harpoon-like teeth located within their throat with one tooth “loaded” and ready for use. When prey is detected, the snail rapidly fires the tooth and injects a potent cocktail of neurotoxins that paralyzes small fish almost instantly. The snail then retracts the tooth, reeling in the prey before swallowing it whole. Conus snails can fire these venomous harpoons in any direction (even backwards), and some of the loaded toxins can be fatal to humans.
Image by Dr. Alan Kohn and Dr. Joshua Kubo, University of Washington.

Tooth of a predatory marine snail

The predatory marine snail Conus ermineus lives in a shell between 2-4 inches in length. Like the barrel of a gun, Conus snails possess a battery of venom-loaded, harpoon-like teeth located within their throat with one tooth “loaded” and ready for use. When prey is detected, the snail rapidly fires the tooth and injects a potent cocktail of neurotoxins that paralyzes small fish almost instantly. The snail then retracts the tooth, reeling in the prey before swallowing it whole. Conus snails can fire these venomous harpoons in any direction (even backwards), and some of the loaded toxins can be fatal to humans.

Image by Dr. Alan Kohn and Dr. Joshua Kubo, University of Washington.

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Mouse hair follicles and stem cells
The average adult human body possesses over 5 million hair follicles that cyclically progress through different phases of growth, regression, and rest. About 80-90% of our hair follicles are in the growth phase while only 10% are in the resting phase. Under sudden and extreme stress, however, up to 70% of hair can prematurely enter the resting phase, leading to excessive hair loss in a condition known as telogen effluvium. Recent research is attempting to generate hair follicle stem cells in a culture dish so they may be transplanted into skin to restart hair regeneration.
Image by Dr. Yaron Fuchs, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/The Rockefeller University.

Mouse hair follicles and stem cells

The average adult human body possesses over 5 million hair follicles that cyclically progress through different phases of growth, regression, and rest. About 80-90% of our hair follicles are in the growth phase while only 10% are in the resting phase. Under sudden and extreme stress, however, up to 70% of hair can prematurely enter the resting phase, leading to excessive hair loss in a condition known as telogen effluvium. Recent research is attempting to generate hair follicle stem cells in a culture dish so they may be transplanted into skin to restart hair regeneration.

Image by Dr. Yaron Fuchs, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/The Rockefeller University.

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The mouth of a blowfly
Blowflies are of incredible importance to forensic science. With their keen ability to smell a dead animal from over a mile away, they are usually the first insects to come into contact with decaying bodies, usually within minutes of death. Females lay eggs in dying tissue, which develop in a predictable pattern based on temperature and weather that can be used to determine time and place of death. Recent research is uncovering how the development of blowfly larvae change depending on the chemicals and drugs present in a victim’s system, revealing clues for a more accurate time and cause of death.
Image by Michael Gibson.

The mouth of a blowfly

Blowflies are of incredible importance to forensic science. With their keen ability to smell a dead animal from over a mile away, they are usually the first insects to come into contact with decaying bodies, usually within minutes of death. Females lay eggs in dying tissue, which develop in a predictable pattern based on temperature and weather that can be used to determine time and place of death. Recent research is uncovering how the development of blowfly larvae change depending on the chemicals and drugs present in a victim’s system, revealing clues for a more accurate time and cause of death.

Image by Michael Gibson.

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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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