Your heart is made up of muscle cells that squeeze and expand rhythmically to pump blood round your body. It's the long, stringy fibres inside them – the fine stripes in these heart cells – that are responsible for making sure our hearts keep beating. They act like springy elastic bands, changing the shape of the muscle cells as they work. To understand what happens when things go wrong and the heart stops beating properly, researchers are studying the organisation of these fibres in heart cells grown in the lab. Rather than having to constantly use samples from animal hearts for their work, scientists created these cells from stem cells, which can be persuaded to turn into different types of tissue by treating them in certain ways.
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.