Moving Models A riot in one city is bad enough, but when chaos…

Moving Models

A riot in one city is bad enough, but when chaos starts to catch on elsewhere, a whole country can crumble. The same is true of cancer. Most deaths come after the initial tumour has spread to other areas of the body (metastasised). This deadly spread has proved difficult to study in animal experiments, and researchers believed that fruit flies – the diminutive stars of genetic research – didn’t live long enough to help. But a new study has initiated metastatic tumours in one area of the fly (glowing green in the gut, left), and seen them spread to the abdomen, thorax and head (left to right). A gene called Snail gets the tumours moving, and lets the researchers examine the process in new detail. The rapid life cycle and malleable genetics of fruit flies will open endless new experimental approaches, so we can one day keep cancer in its place.

Written by Anthony Lewis

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

Hear, Here Snap your fingers. You create tiny vibrations in…

Hear, Here

Snap your fingers. You create tiny vibrations in the air that reach your ear and are converted to electrical impulses. These impulses shoot along brain cells (neurons) to be processed as sound, all before your fingers have even stopped moving. The details of this instant information transfer along and between neurons are important but not fully understood. Nitric oxide (NO) is a signalling molecule that passes messages from one neuron to another. A new study looked at an audio-processing part of guinea pig brains and found NO-production machinery, nNOS, in surprising discrete spots (green) on the brain cells (pink). Activity in these cells responds to audio signals, but can be restricted by subduing nNOS, suggesting that NO is essential to hearing. Altered brain cell activity and unusual nNOS behaviour have been linked to tinnitus and hearing problems following acoustic trauma, so unpicking NO’s role might help patients hear clearly.

Written by Anthony Lewis

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

Seeing Candida Differently We’re all fundamentally the same…

Seeing Candida Differently

We’re all fundamentally the same yet can look vastly different from each other. Turn to the microbe Candida albicans and it too shows considerable differences within its species. This pathogenic yeast forms almost impenetrable sheets called biofilms when infecting humans, making treatment difficult. Research however often focuses on just one strain of C. albicans. Now researchers look at the effects of mutating four key genes needed for biofilm production in the strain most commonly studied in the lab as well as several others isolated from patients. Using confocal microscopy, they visualised the production of projections called hyphae (pictured), a key feature of C. albicans biofilms. They found the effects of each mutation (second to fourth columns) relative to the normal state (far left column) varied significantly across strains (rows, top to bottom). To get a more complete picture of how C. albicans functions, research into multiple strains is therefore needed.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link