Diabetics face a daily struggle to control the amount of glucose in their blood. Sufferers are often unable to make insulin, a chemical that keeps glucose in check, which also plays a vital role in healing wounds. These skin cells – each with a yellow-stained nucleus inside a purple-stained membrane – belong to a fruit fly embryo, although they share similarities with our own skin. Blasting away the cell in the middle with a laser, researchers watch under a high-powered microscope as surrounding cells work together to close the hole. They form a muscle-like band called an actomyosin cable around the wound (thicker purple circle), which contracts to seal the gap. In genetically modified flies where insulin can’t work normally, actomyosin cables are much weaker and form more slowly. This may explain why human diabetics find certain injuries take longer to heal, and may guide future treatments to speed up the process.
Written by John Ankers
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.