Eye colour, body shape, whether we can roll our tongues: genes affect everything about us. These genetic programs carry within them the code needed to create proteins – the building blocks of life. Given this essential role, it is perhaps unsurprising that genes also play a major part in some diseases. With gastric cancer (a microscopic section pictured), the activity of one gene, called CAV-1, is particularly important. As tumour cells (orange) take hold, the gene becomes less and less active in producing proteins. Although this shift occurs throughout the tumour, it’s in its connective tissue (green) where this drop in work rate appears to have the greatest toll. Lower levels of CAV-1 activity in these areas predict higher rates of death and recurrence in patients. Therefore, targeting CAV-1 within the connective tissue of tumours may offer a good opportunity for fighting the disease.
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.