The lives of cells in our bodies follow an arc that begins with birth and ends with death, which – if left to their own devices – is a programmed death. By making space for new cells and ensuring that potential cancer cells don't forget to die, the cycle of renewal keeps the body healthy. Now researchers have engineered the reverse, reprogramming hair-follicle stem cells in mice to live longer, to see if this could speed up wound healing. By switching off the process that leads to cell death, or apoptosis, they enabled mice with wounded tails to heal faster and to grow back hair follicles (shown, with stem cells in green and new cells in red), by accumulating a larger number of stem cells that helped replace damaged cells. Viable future therapies will also have to learn to switch programmed cell death back on to stop them running amok.
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.