Projected Delivery Couriers will often try three times to…

Projected Delivery

Couriers will often try three times to deliver our parcels, but cells in tissues and organs can’t afford to wait. They’re constantly exchanging chemical signals – proteins produced in one cell are ‘sent’ to neighbouring cells, but how the delivery happens can be a little mysterious. In these zebrafish cells (artificially coloured red), Wnt proteins (green) help to coordinate development. They travel towards neighbouring cells down long arm-like projections called cytonemes. This cellular courier service is organised by the Wnt proteins themselves, which trigger the growth of the cytonemes. Disruption to this plan leads to delayed messages and serious problems in developing tissues. Researchers have found similar delivery networks at play in embryos and tumours, and understanding the proteins involved could help to deliver (or destroy) these vital messages.

Written by John Ankers

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

Popping Sound It’s a nightmare for bubble blowers – the moment…

Popping Sound

It’s a nightmare for bubble blowers – the moment when, instead of leaving a bubble wand, a wobbling nearly-bubble seems to change its mind and deflate – hurtling back towards a terrified face and a soapy pop. This unfortunate quirk of surface tension is reversed here, inflating droplets of a soapy substance using ultrasound, as a step towards transforming drug delivery. Acoustic vibrations cause the edge of the droplet to buckle and rise (top row). Resonating vibrations grow the bubble, and a split second later it floats away (bottom right). Adapting the technique for industry, ultrasound could be used to create pharmacological foams – increasingly used over creams to deliver topical drugs onto skin when treating conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis.

Written by John Ankers

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

Studying Pupils Have you ever seen someone’s pupil suddenly…

Studying Pupils

Have you ever seen someone’s pupil suddenly shrink when the lights turn on in a dark room? Our pupils change size constantly throughout the day, adjusting to light levels and responding to shifts in attention. But what happens at night? Hidden behind closed eyelids, sleeping pupil activity has always been a mystery. Now researchers have managed to film a mouse’s pupil overnight. An infrared light shines on the back of the eye, making the pupil glow white on an infrared camera. The recordings revealed that pupil size fluctuates, precisely matching the state of sleep at any given time. The deeper the mice’s slumber, the narrower the pupils, suggesting they’re blocking out intrusive light during important deep sleep – thought to be the key time for memory consolidation. Furthermore, tracking pupils is a new approach to monitoring sleep, so could one day help people plagued by insomnia get a good night’s rest.

Written by Anthony Lewis

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link