Back in our school days, cells in biology class were depicted in diagrams as flat pancake-like structures, with a circular nucleus in the middle. But in reality cells are complex three-dimensional entities, and scientists have recently developed a new tool that brings the detail to life. Based on data collected from years of observing and recording human cells, this new online application models a variety of human cells in 3D. The Allen Integrated Cell also reveals the intricate ways in which cells are structured, what they are made of, and where their internal ‘organs’ – the organelles – are typically located. Not only does it provide more riveting educational material, this unique insight into the elaborate structure of living cells will be valuable to scientists around the world, and could even be used to model how cells respond to new medications.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.