Brain cells can sometimes resemble vegetables thanks to contemporary research methodologies. Pictured is a broccoli-shaped brain cell grown in the lab. Known as astrocytes because they also resemble stars, these are the most common cell type in the central nervous system. In addition to providing nutrients for other brain cells, they also play a role in repair. Scientists found that after injury, radial glial cells (RGLs), a type of stem cell found in the brain and spinal cord, could mature into one of three different cell types, including astrocytes Each RGL can also self-renew, or copy itself and so replenish damaged tissue. Knowing how brain stem cells mature will hopefully prompt the development of new ways to treat diseases of the central nervous system.
Written by Gwen Wathne
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.