Health

Developing Brain

A section of embryonic mouse brain has been stained to show different subtypes of developing neurons. Red marks neurons born early in development and yellow are more recent; cell nuclei are blue.  A team led by Debra Silver in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has found that mice having only one good copy of the gene Rbm8a have fewer neural progenitor cells and thus fewer neurons and are born with smaller brains, demonstrating that Rbmb8a is crucial to healthy brain development.

 

 

 

Jamming Cancer

The combination of an old malaria drug, chloroquine, and an experimental drug, D4476, has been found to interrupt the normal functions of cancer cells, stained blue. David Virshup and Jit Kong Cheong, from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, wanted to interfere with the cancer cell's known reliance on autophagy, a form of self-destruction. The cells ended up with their surfaces clogged with digestive vacuoles (red), that effectively prevent them from obtaining nutrition.

Creeping Fat

With obesity and age, fat cells invade the pancreas, where they become factors in the insulin secretion process relevant to diabetes and in the inflammation that leads to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. James Minchin, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology made this image of lipid droplets (magenta) surrounded by fibrous collagen (green) in the pancreatic tissue of zebrafish as part of his work on genetic and environmental sources of obesity.

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