Under the Microscope: Biomedical Image Discovery 

Francis Crick Institute

A glimpse into the world of biomedical imaging, through the eyes and thoughts of researchers at the Francis Crick Institute.

Every day, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London, UK, use a range of tools and techniques to visualise minute biological processes as part of their research.

Blood cells, by Dr Anne Weston.

Inside a blood clot, a white blood cell is visible in the centre of the image (very pale blue) surrounded by red blood cells trapped in a mesh-like structure called fibrin.

It was captured by an electron microscope, just one of the imaging tools that Crick scientists use to reveal biological processes and objects invisible to the naked eye.

Listen to Dr Anne Weston explain the image

Visualising the 3D structure of DNA within the nucleus, by Dr Adam Rabinowitz and Dr Yasutaka Kakui.

The genome of a yeast cell is only half a centimetre long.

It contains all the genetic material needed to build a yeast cell, which is packed inside a nucleus roughly 0.003mm in diameter.

The processes that take place inside yeast are very similar to those of a human, but the genome is so much shorter that studying yeast makes the scientific analysis much easier for Dr Rabinowitz and Dr Kakui.

Hear the scientists discussing creating this image

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, by Jonathon Hannabuss.

The image is the result of an experiment that involved recreating the interaction of molecular motors with a specific type of cytoskeleton fibre called microtubules.

The image reveals how, inside of us all, there are trillions of tiny machines called molecular motors.

They take the chemical energy locked away in food and turn it into mechanical energy.

Jonathon talks about how and why he created the image

Fat droplets in liver-like cells of the fruit fly, 2016, by Annick Sawala.

These are cells from a Drosophila fruit fly larva.

Dr Sawala fasted the fruit fly for 24 hours before studying how it would respond to this temporary lack of food.

Dr Annick was particularly interested in the formation of the green blobs - small spheres of fat known as lipid droplets.

Their appearance shows that an important change in fat metabolism has taken place.

Listen to Dr Annick Sawala talk about this image

Graphical cancer genetics, by Dr Charlie Swanton.

Dr Swanton and his team research how tumours change genetically over space and time, and use diagrams and genetic trees to help make sense of their research.

The 'genetic tree' show in the image indicates an advanced cancer tumour of the kidney found in a patient.

Listen to Dr Charlie Swanton explain why and how he created this image

The Toxoplasma parasite is found everywhere - in soil, on raw meat and unwashed food.

But its primary host is the cat.

When it infects an animal or person, our bodies react by sending a signal to increase defences, via a molecule called cytokine gamma interferon.

To create the image, and to understand more about how the body defends itself, Dr Eva Frickel added the molecule to human cells before infecting them with different strains and strengths of the Toxoplasma parasite.

Listen to Dr Eva Frickel explain this image

Not just a ball of cells, by Dr Paola Scaffidi.

The image shows the irregularity and diversity of tumours.

Dr Scaffidi is interested in processes that define how cells use their DNA, and how this may affect cancer development.

The goal of Paola's laboratory is to uncover the fundamental principles of cancer development.

Listen to Dr Paola Scaffidi explaining the previous image
Credits: Story

For more information visit crick.ac.uk

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