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Tube Strike
10 January 2017

Tube Strike

Spinocerebellar ataxia is a devastating disease. It starts when a person is in the prime of life and leads to the progressive breakdown of their brain and nervous system. There are several forms of the condition – each caused by a fault in a different gene – but there is no cure. To find out more about one type, researchers have turned to tiny nematode worms. The bottom row of images shows the first cell divisions in early worm embryos. The DNA is stained in blue, while structures called microtubules are highlighted green. These tube-like structures play a vital role in helping cells divide properly. The embryos on the top row have a faulty version of a gene called ATX-2, which causes spinocerebellar ataxia type 2. The worm cells don’t divide properly because their microtubules aren’t working correctly, explaining some of the problems seen in the brains of human patients.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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