Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 8th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Closing the Gap
19 March 2015

Closing the Gap

During the early stages of pregnancy, the neural tube – which will later become the spinal cord and brain – starts to form. A neural tube defect is where the tube fails to form properly, exposing the brain/spinal cord to fluid in the amniotic sac, leading to disorders such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Researchers have found that an enzyme called glycine decarboxylase (GLDC) is intensely active during the formation of the neural tube (the dark area in the head of this developing mouse), promoting cell growth. Disrupting GLDC slowed down the development and growth of the tube – a clue that it’s vital for neural tube closure. It’s known that babies deficient in GLDC have a rare disease called non-ketotic hyperglycinemia, leading to symptoms including seizures and muscle limpness. These new findings now put the gene that codes for GLDC at the heart of these two separate disorders with crippling effects.

Written by Katie Panteli

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

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.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.