Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

In 2017 we celebrate five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Organising Ears
02 February 2017

Organising Ears

Life in the womb is a bustle of activity as organs develop. Your ears alone take about four months to form. Trying to mimic this in a lab is quite a challenge so researchers specifically focused on turning mouse stem cells into inner ear organoids – 3D structures similar to the developing inner ear. Coaxing stem cells to organise themselves into these structures involved adding a cocktail of chemicals to turn on signalling molecules, in particular one called Wnt. Over several days the stem cells began to lose their stem cell markers (red) and to form organoids, indicated by the cells (blue/green) ruffling around the edges (clockwise from the top left). A closer look revealed the ear cells they developed into were almost indistinguishable from those naturally found in mice. This makes them ideal for testing drugs for their effects on ear cells, specifically the maximum dosage before damage occurs.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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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.

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