19 July 2013
Listen and Learn
Babies start talking when they are about a year old, but their brains are primed to detect language long before that. Here, researchers have used fMRI scanning to compare the brain of a three month old baby (above) to an adult brain (below). The colours show the order in which different parts of the brain are active when a short sentence is heard (the sequence goes red – green – blue). The baby’s brain is not yet fully developed, but it shows roughly the same patterns of brain activity that are important in adult speech perception. Regions of the adult brain involved in speech production and grammar integration also light up in the baby’s brain, even though it can’t yet say a word, let alone a sentence. When the same sentence is repeated, brain activity increases in the baby, suggesting it can remember and recognise these sounds.
Written by Emma Stoye
15 July 2013
Newborn babies may seem tiny, but even they are giants compared to how they started. It’s sometimes hard to believe that every single one of us began life as a tiny ball of cells less than a hair’s width across. The two mouse embryos pictured above are made up of just a few dozen cells (nuclei and membranes stained blue and green, respectively). But they contain all the necessary instructions to make a baby mouse. Every day the cells divide and the embryos grow into something a little more complex. Scientists have taken this detailed snapshot of their growth using fluorescent probes and a powerful microscope. The red specks on the right hand embryo show the locations of a protein called VCL. Lots of cell proteins and signals can be mapped in this way, which can help us understand more about how embryos grow.
Written by Emma Stoye
If my flesh is self-centered & yet a part of who I am desperately clings to God interceding for my child not to be in pain how much more does The Lord intercede for us His children. He reconciled our relationship to Him & has made it to be unfading!
11 July 2013
Weaving Artificial Organs
Currently 10,000 patients in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant. Only around 4,000 organs are gifted yearly despite one third of the population being on the national organ donor register, while rising obesity and diabetes rates are expected to drive a boom in demand for organs like kidneys. To alleviate demand, researchers are studying the possibility of harvesting artificial organs woven from hair-thin fibres (pictured) made of hydrogels. The fibres are loaded with growing cells that can take over the function of a failing organ. In a promising trial, biologists injected fibres containing insulin-producing cells into the kidneys of diabetic mice and successfully restored their blood sugar levels. Cells injected without the protective hydrogel fibre-casing were killed by the immune system’s defences. More trials, using fibres with heart, nerve or blood vessel cells show the material could in future replace failing human tissue.
Written by Tristan Farrow
08 July 2013
Gotta Keep Moving
Each coloured line here represents the path taken by a different bundle of DNA (known as a chromosome) during meiosis – the unique form of cell division that spawns sperm and egg cells. Each chromosome is dragged like a fish on a line around the inside edge of the cell nucleus by protein motors. On the left is the path taken by DNA in a healthy cell, the right in a cell whose motors have been disabled. During meiosis, chromosomes must match up with their complementary twin, so like singletons at a speed dating session they dart around in a frantic search. Without free movement the chromosomes in the cell on the right never got the chance to encounter their partner. Such mismatching can lead to major developmental problems, so revealing how chromosomes find each other is a high priority for scientists.
Written by Anthony Lewis
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.