Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer affecting lymph nodes [glands], develops from faulty division of white blood cells. Sometimes the cancerous cells are very large and, instead of having the usual single nucleus [home to chromosomes], they have many (each large blue shape pictured). These giants are known as Reed-Sternberg cells. Making use of the latest 3D imaging techniques, scientists tracked a pair of chromosomes in such a cell and saw that they became increasingly out of position as the cell divided and multiplied. The arrow points to (magnified in the boxed area) a chromosome that is bridging two nuclei inside a Reed-Sternberg cell. This highly irregular situation illustrates just how chaotic the cell has become. The study may provide insight for developing new treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, building on advances that have raised the survival rate in recent years to around 85 per cent in the developed world.
Written by Mick Warwicker
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.