The fastest, strongest and fittest humans on earth are descending on the London 2012 Olympic Games today. But athletes aren’t the only ones with a competitive streak. The microbiologists of the world have their own need for speed, and have taken to racing their collections of cells. In the 2011 World Cell Race, bone marrow cells from Singapore blew away the competition, migrating along the microscopic protein-covered track at the dizzying pace of 5.2 microns per minute (that’s 0.000000193mph). The races are far from frivolous. Cell movement and migration is key to everything from the development of a growing body to the spread of rogue cancer cells. Different cell types employ different tactics for moving around the body, and these races provide a great way to compare the variations and build our understanding of how cells travel.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences 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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.