In the moments after a heart attack, doctors race to supply oxygen to dying cardiomyocytes [heart cells], or risk scar tissue forming in the wound, weakening the heart. But what if we could encourage new heart tissue to grow after injury, healing wounds in a similar way to how the heart first develops in the womb? In this young mouse heart, scientists use genetic engineering to label cells in different fluorescent colours – then watch under a microscope as they grow and divide, 'painting' the heart as it develops. Colourful patterns emerge, allowing researchers to spot different types of growth. In amongst stem cells that aid early heart development, they found that a specific group of cardiomyocytes begin to divide to help with the construction. Examining genes inside these cells may hold clues to unlocking their healing power in adulthood.
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.