Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

Happy Mammaries
06 December 2016

Happy Mammaries

These colourful cells are human mammary epithelial cells. They’re normally found lining the network of tree-like milk ducts inside female breasts, but here they’ve been grown in a plastic dish. Because they grow so well in the lab, mammary epithelial cells are a useful way of studying many aspects of breast cell growth and behaviour, especially the development of breast cancer – one of the most common types of cancer in the world. Not only can scientists tweak the genes and molecules within the cells to see how they respond, revealing key drivers behind the process of tumour growth, but they can also use them to test potential new drugs to treat the disease. One area of research focuses on certain molecules involved in sticking cells together, stained here with red and green dyes. These interactions are faulty in tumours, so understanding and targeting them could lead to important future therapies.

Written by Kat Arney

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