When scientists keep cells and tissues in a lab we often say they’re ‘in a dish’. While this works for individual cells, if you want to study a tissue it’s sometimes less effective. A dish is flat, unlike the 3D environment inside a body where tissues normally grow, so structures might not develop properly. Solutions include growing the tissue inside a thick gel, or a flask that’s constantly turning. The second type is called simulated microgravity, and it keeps the samples near-weightless, like astronauts in orbit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for all cell types. Scientists took healthy sections of mouse ovary called follicles (pictured) and found that keeping them in simulated microgravity meant they didn't survive as long as those in a dish, and didn’t function as well. Understanding why this happened will show us how our bodies work in low gravity conditions, like in space.
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.