Cutting edge techniques often reveal biology to look as monstrous as it does beautiful. Who would have thought cells from a pig’s kidney could look a bit like a sea monster? This cell is being ripped in two during mitosis, in a similar way to cells in every human embryo, and many cancers, too. A new technique called Point Accumulation for Imaging of Nanoscale Topography (PAINT) bombards the cells repeatedly with colourful molecules, too fast to see by eye but easily captured by a sensitive microscope. The molecules 'stick' to specific features – like the spiky outer and inner cell membranes (green and orange respectively), protecting the DNA (white) as it’s shared between two daughter cells. Detailed 3D images can be spun around looking for details that older techniques might have missed – the membranes can even be 'burnt away' virtually and the cell jumped into to get a closer look.
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.