Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells that become increasingly differentiated [specialised] as we grow and develop. Sometimes the differences between cell types can be seen using a light microscope (left), but sometimes biochemical techniques, like fluorescent labelling of specific proteins (right), are needed to visualise the differences. Using these methods, researchers studying cervical cancer have been able to follow the differentiation of the cells which line the cervix. At 16-weeks’ gestation (top row) the cells are just beginning to specialise. By 20-weeks (middle row) a second type of cells appears (yellow, right column). In adults (bottom row) the tissues are fully specialised and different types of cells are found in distinct parts of the cervix. The red-stained cells lining the v-shaped area in the adult cervix (bottom right) are particularly interesting as they may be where human papilloma virus (HPV) infects and cervical cancer starts.
Written by Sarah McLusky
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.