Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Worms and Tubes
26 October 2013

Worms and Tubes

Most animals, including humans, are mainly made of interlinked tubes – think of the muscular tunnel of the gut, the branching network of blood vessels, or the complex plumbing inside a kidney. Accurately growing and linking these tubes is a major feat of biological engineering, involving millions upon millions of cells moving and sticking together. To get a grip on how it works, researchers have turned to tiny nematode worms. These little wrigglers are made up of around 1,000 cells and create their gut from just a handful. This image shows a worm embryo that's around five hours old, with all its cells outlined with a red dye. The ones with a green blob in the middle will go on to make the gut. By tracking the growth and movement of these cells in worms, scientists are shedding light on the fundamental processes that shape our own bodies.

Written by Kat Arney

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