For whole organ systems to develop from a single cell, a hugely intricate level of communication between different tissues is needed. This ensures that organs end up developing properly. However, cells can only signal to each other in a few different ways, and one kind of signal can have different meanings at different times. The pancreas develops from the same tissue as the gut. Too much of one particular type of signal, called the Wnt pathway, results in a much smaller pancreas. New research has found that this makes the rest of the pancreas tissue become extra digestive tissue. The image shows where the pancreas should be (cell nuclei in blue). However, cells showing gut-like characteristics (pink) have developed. Finding out how the pancreas develops may help us develop transplant tissue for people with conditions like pancreatic cancer or diabetes.
Written by Esther Redhouse White
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