Every cell in your body is bustling with life. Millions of events occur every second to keep them functioning normally. Cancer throws a spanner in the works, causing cells to go rogue as a result of faults in their genes. Gliomas are a cancer of the brain or spinal cord. They’re thought to arise from stem cells in the nervous system, which have become mutant. As mutations in a gene called IDH1 are particularly common in gliomas, researchers investigated neural stem cells for this fault. Normal neural stem cells (pictured) mature into cells called glia (red) and neurons (green). But neural stem cells containing mutant IDH1 fail to mature – a characteristic often seen in cancer cells. However these mutant cells also died easily, which doesn’t fit the bill of a gene that causes cancer. More research is therefore needed to unpick this enigma.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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.