Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

Simulating Symptoms
05 July 2012

Simulating Symptoms

Sufferers of von Recklinghausen’s disease – a genetic disorder affecting 1 in 4,000 people – may experience blindness, epilepsy and learning difficulties, as well as increased cancer risk. The disease can cause gross physical disfigurement that leads to its frequent confusion with the ‘Elephant Man’ or Proteus Syndrome. By manipulating genes in a fruit fly, researchers have been able to mimic elements of the disease. When production of certain glycolipid molecules is suppressed, the fly’s peripheral nerves become dramatically overgrown. This also triggers an immune response attracting large numbers of white blood cells to the overgrown nerve (pictured right in cross-section). For comparison a healthy fly nerve is pictured (left); staining highlights different cell types. Generating disease models in flies has great medical potential, since insects have many genes with parallel human versions. These kinds of experiments provide new insight into the mechanisms underlying this disease.

Written by Andrew Purcell

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by 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.

Read More

Advertise with BPoD

We are currently offering no-fee advertising opportunities for scientific journals, which provide biomedical images for publication. If you are a journal editor, and would like to be considered for inclusion on our website, please get in touch with the Editor.

More Information