I work as a senior consultant brain surgeon at St George’s Hospital in London. I had first gone to Ukraine in 1992 to give some lectures. The conditions I found in the hospitals I visited were terrible – the Soviet Union had been good at making guns and rockets but not much else. Healthcare – apart from for those in power – had been a low priority and, to make matters worse, the Ukrainian economy was in a dire state in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. I met a young neurosurgeon, Igor Kurilets, working in the State Emergency Hospital, who was burning with a fierce determination to improve things that most of his senior colleagues seemed to lack. It seemed a simple matter to help him and I took to driving to Ukraine with car loads of secondhand medical equipment – microscopes, operating tables, thousands of instruments –enough to equip an entire neurosurgical theatre. I soon learned, however, that the newly independent Ukraine had not lost its old Soviet habits; innovation and initiative and contact with the west, if not sanctioned by those in charge, were met with implacable opposition. Igor’s attempts, with my help, to do better for his patients, quickly ran into difficulties. There were endless enquiries and denunciations, and on several occasions members of Igor’s staff were sacked. At one time, following telephoned death threats, he even felt obliged to sleep in a different room each night. While his problems became ever greater, I felt I could not very well abandon him and I have continued to work with him, pro bono, in my spare time, ever since.

I work as a senior consultant brain surgeon at St George’s Hospital in London. I had first gone to Ukraine in 1992 to give some lectures. The conditions I found in the hospitals I visited were terrible – the Soviet Union had been good at making guns and rockets but not much else. Healthcare – apart from for those in power – had been a low priority and, to make matters worse, the Ukrainian economy was in a dire state in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. I met a young neurosurgeon, Igor Kurilets, working in the State Emergency Hospital, who was burning with a fierce determination to improve things that most of his senior colleagues seemed to lack. It seemed a simple matter to help him and I took to driving to Ukraine with car loads of secondhand medical equipment – microscopes, operating tables, thousands of instruments –enough to equip an entire neurosurgical theatre. I soon learned, however, that the newly independent Ukraine had not lost its old Soviet habits; innovation and initiative and contact with the west, if not sanctioned by those in charge, were met with implacable opposition. Igor’s attempts, with my help, to do better for his patients, quickly ran into difficulties. There were endless enquiries and denunciations, and on several occasions members of Igor’s staff were sacked. At one time, following telephoned death threats, he even felt obliged to sleep in a different room each night. While his problems became ever greater, I felt I could not very well abandon him and I have continued to work with him, pro bono, in my spare time, ever since.

sciencenote:

Daphne Zbaeren-Colbourn

Bern, Switzerland

Subject Matter:

Acrostichum aureum, mangrove fern (TS leaf midrib)

(20x)Technique:

Brightfield, Fluorescence

sciencenote:

When a cell divides, it produces a mitotic spindle which then makes sure that the chromosomes are divided equally between the two new cells. Failure to do so efficiently can lead to problems; those cells with either too few or too many chromosomes are at risk of becoming cancerous.

Clathrin is a protein that is involved in the process of membrane trafficking in interphase cells, but it switches role during mitosis and localises to the mitotic spindle where it works alongside TACC3 and ch-TOG to form these bridges.

Professor Royle explained, “That sounds like a negative, the idea of a cell dying. However it’s vital to remember that most adult cells are no longer dividing and what we are suggesting is being able to shut down mitosis in those that are multiplying.”

sciencenote:

The insertion of one gene can muzzle the extra copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down’s syndrome, according to a study published today in Nature. The method could help researchers to identify the cellular pathways behind the disorder’s symptoms, and to design targeted treatments.

image

Lawrence…

"Scientists have known that Bmi1 is a central control switch within the adult stem cells of many tissues, including the brain, blood, lung and mammary gland,” said Ophir Klein, MD, PhD, who directs the Craniofacial and Mesenchymal Biology (CMB) Program and serves as chair of the Division of Craniofacial Anomalies at UCSF. “Bmi1 also is a cancer-causing gene that becomes reactivated in cancer cells.”

Researchers focused on stem cells (yellow) at the base of the growing mouse incisor, which dwell within a surface layer of cells (dark green). The stem cells spin off precursor cells (light green), which in turn give rise to ameloblasts (blue), which are the cells that make enamel (red). Odontoblasts (orange) arise from a different group of stem cells and make dentin (white). (Credit: Jimmy Hu)

In the current study, postdoctoral fellows Brian Biehs, PhD, and Jimmy Hu, PhD, determined that there is a group of adult stem cells at the base of the growing mouse incisor and that these stem cells possess active BMI1. They showed that BMI1 can suppress a set of genes called Hox genes that, when activated, trigger the development of specific cell types and body structures. In the mouse incisor, the researchers showed that activity of BMI1 in the stem cells maintains their stem cell fate and prevents inappropriate cell differentiation by suppressing the expression of Hox genes.

sciencenote:

Dr. David McDonald

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Subject Matter:

Fibroblast cells

(100x)Technique:

Fluorescence

A fibroblast is a type of cell that synthesizes the extracellular matrix andcollagen, the structural framework (stroma) for animal tissues, and plays a critical role in wound healing. Fibroblasts are the most common cells of connective tissue in animals.

(via sciencenote)

Microneedle vaccine
This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows an array of ‘microneedles’ made from a biodegradable polymer. Researchers have shown these materials can be used to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the outer layers of the skin in a safe and painless way. Because the microneedles avoid contact with blood vessels and nerve endings in the deeper skin layers, microneedle application prevents pain and the transmission of blood-borne pathogens. In addition, because the skin is so accessible, microneedle application can be performed quickly, requires minimal training for healthcare providers and makes self-application by patients possible. Each microneedle is approximately 700 microns high and 250 microns wide at the base.

Credit: Peter DeMuth / Wellcome Images
Chicken embryo vascular system
This fluorescence micrograph shows the vascular system of a developing chicken embryo (Gallus gallus), two days after fertilisation. Injecting fluorescent dextran revealed the entire vasculature used by the embryo to feed itself from the rich underlying yolk inside the egg. The image shows the central chicken embryo surrounded by veins and arteries. The head of the embryo, including the embryonic eye and brain, can be seen on the upper part of the embryo, just above the embryonic heart. The long lower part of the embryo is the future body of the chicken, from which legs and wings will develop. At this stage of development, the embryo and its surrounding vasculature are a little smaller than a 5p coin.

Credit: Vincent Pasque, University of Cambridge

scienceisbeauty:

Curiosity as is seen by Einstein (above, via Physicist Tv) and by XKCD (below, via XKCD).