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Science is Beautiful

mouse placenta imagery

The Placenta Rainbow highlights differences in mouse placental development that can result from manipulation of the mother’s immune system. These placentas were investigated at day 12 of the 20-day gestation period – the point at which a mouse’s placenta has gained its characteristic shape but is still developing.

The Wellcome Image Awards recognizes beauty and achievement in scientific photography. Their subject matter differs, but all of the winning images share one thing in common: a love and appreciation for science, and it’s inherent visual beauty. Here are a selection of unique and wonderful picks, with subject matter ranging from cat skin to mouse placentas. All captions from the Wellcome Image Awards.

A polarised light micrograph of a section of cat skin, showing hairs, whiskers and their blood supply. This sample is from a Victorian microscope slide. Blood vessels were injected with a red dye called carmine dye (here appearing black) in order to visualise the capillaries in the tissue, a newly developed technique at the time.

 

Native to the Pacific Ocean, Hawaiian bobtail squid are nocturnal predators that remain buried under the sand during the day and come out to hunt for shrimp near coral reefs at night. The squid have a light organ on their underside that houses a colony of glowing bacteria called Vibrio fischeri. The squid provide food and shelter for these bacteria in return for their bioluminescence.

 

This image shows a 3D reconstruction of an African grey parrot, post euthanasia. The 3D model details the highly intricate system of blood vessels in the head and neck of the bird and was made possible through the use of a new research contrast agent called BriteVu (invented by Scott Echols). This contrast agent allows researchers to study a subject’s vascular system in incredible detail, right down to the capillary level.

 

Short genetic sequences called microRNAs, which control the proper function and growth of cells, are being investigated by researchers as a possible cancer therapy. However, their potential use is limited by the lack of an efficient system to deliver these microRNAs specifically to cancerous cells. Researchers at MIT have developed such a system, combining two microRNAs with a synthetic polymer to form a stable woven structure a bit like a net. This synthetic net can coat a tumour and deliver the two microRNAs locally to cancer cells.

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