Bodily scars can illustrate nostalgic tales of our childhood scrapes and adventures. Other lifelong scars provide far less sentimental stories; such as those inflicted upon our central nervous system (CNS). When our brain or spine is injured scar tissue develops, blocking the regrowth of nerve cells and causing permanent nerve damage. Researchers investigated whether the drug deferoxamine could reduce scarring. Two cell types of the brain – astrocytes (green) and fibroblasts (red) – were grown in a dish. Adding a chemical to simulate scarring caused the fibroblasts to clump together and the astrocytes to surround them (pictured). Adding deferoxamine reduced the size of these obstructive clumps and allowed nerve cells added to the dish to extend projections across them. Testing deferoxamine in a mouse model of CNS damage produced similar results. Further research will reveal this drug’s potential to treat CNS trauma in humans.
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.