Bone marrow not only replenishes our blood, it’s also a source of stem cells for our tissues. Stem cells are a biological ’blank slate’ with the potential to mature into any type of cell. How they travel to different organs and adopt a specialized function remains a hotly-pursued research goal. Transplanting bone marrow from a mouse with green fluorescent protein (GFP) in its cells into a mouse that lacks bone marrow reveals where these cells are going. Fluorescent green cells in this pancreas have originated from the bone marrow. And they are fit for purpose, producing pancreatic enzymes. This experiment helped the resesarchers establish that bone marrow cells migrate to the pancreas and become cancer stroma (non-cancerous cells which ’help’ pancreatic cancer cells grow) altering the response to treatment. Using animal models like this helps explain how cells travel between organs, which is relevant to new cancer treatments.
Written by Claire Worrall
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.