The Art in Biomedical Research
1. Muscle Stem Cell Factories
Credit: FASEB 2012 Bio-Art Winner - Douglas B. Cowan
This micrograph shows cells called myoblasts attached to spherical microcarriers, which allow the growth of adult stem cells that have been isolated from skeletal muscle. The stem cells are shown in green. By combining these cells in a bioreactor, the muscle stem cells can be greatly increased in number and then separated from the myoblast “feeder” cells. The image was produced in the course of studies aimed at creating artificial “stem cell factories” and was supported by NIH funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
2. Scaffold for Cartilage Regeneration
Credit: FASEB 2012 Bio-Art Winner - Frank Moutos and Farshid Guilak
Due to a lack of blood vessels and other characteristics, cartilage heals very slowly. One way to accelerate natural cartilage repair and growth is to use tissue engineering, or the artificially-stimulated production of functional replacement tissue. The image shows a three-dimensionally woven biomaterial scaffold. The scaffold consists of multiple layers of resorbable fiber bundles that have been woven into a porous structure. The scaffold is then seeded with cells that grow to become new tissue as the fibers are resorbed. The fibers provide stiffness and strength in a manner that mimics native collagenous tissues such as cartilage. This work to use tissue engineering to generate replacement cartilage is supported by NIH funding from the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
3. Production of New Neurons
Credit: FASEB 2012 Bio-Art Winner - Grigori Enikolopov and Ann-Shyn Chiang
New neurons are produced from neural stem cells in several areas of the adult brain. One such area is in the hippocampus, a brain structure crucial for cognitive function. The number of neural stem cells in the hippocampus decreases over time, possibly contributing to the cognitive impairment associated with aging. When activated by extrinsic stimuli, stem cells divide and generate progenitor cells, which eventually mature into neurons and migrate into the layers above, whereas stem cells themselves undergo additional rounds of rapid divisions and convert into astrocytes, thus leaving the stem cell pool. The image depicts stem cells (green) and neuronal nuclei (red). This research to understand how the brain produces new neurons is supported by NIH through the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Aging.
4. Brain, Heart, and Lung Communication
Credit: FASEB 2012 Bio-Art Winner - Li-Hsien Lin
Both glutamate and nitric oxide play an important role in transmitting cardiovascular and respiratory signals between the brain, heart, and lung. This butterfly shaped figure is an image of a rat spinal cord showing the distribution of three types of glutamate and nitric oxide synthesizing enzymes. Understanding the action and interaction of glutamate and nitric oxide in the nervous system could lead to better treatments for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and heart failure. This work is supported by NIH funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.