Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Sniffing Out Glue
13 October 2013

Sniffing Out Glue

Our bodies are held together by a sort of molecular glue called collagen. It’s the most common protein in the body, and forms tough fibres that hold our innards in place and help everything from organ growth to cell movement. But how this ever-abundant protein is replenished presents something of a gap in our knowledge. Scientists took advantage of recent advances in microscope technology to take a new look at the problem, watching what happens when collagen (white strands pictured) is introduced to skin. They could see how different parts of cells (labeled in red, blue and green) dealt with the influx, and identified the ways they break it down. This is an important revelation as too much collagen can lead to fibrosis, too little can cause osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and collagen control is central to the strategy cancer cells employ to spread around the body.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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