At the point where natural biology and lab-based design meet, scientists are developing clever ways to nudge life in healthy directions. Here induced pluripotent stem cells (stained green with blue nuclei) are transformed into endothelial cells – they gelling together; forming a network of blood vessels similar to those found in human body. These vessels will be combined with clusters of pancreatic cells called islets, to form a sort of artificial pancreas that can be flooded with test substances. Outside the body, but mimicking many of its processes, researchers might study how islets respond to drugs, react during the immune response or adapt to changes in their environment. One day, these artificial organs may even be grown from a patient’s own stem cells, to develop personalised treatments for diseases like diabetes.
Written by John Ankers
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.