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Poles Apart
21 August 2017

Poles Apart

Like the world’s most complicated tents, many of our cells are propped up by a skeleton of thousands of protein strands. They inspire the design of drug-carrying nanoparticles, but there are challenges to this biomimicry. Simulated here, strands in spherical shapes bend against each other, forming different patterns – the 'globe' on the left, or the 'tennis ball' on the right. While the globe has two 'poles' where the strands meet at the top and bottom, making the strands more dense and rigid (right) produces a swirl with four poles. This structural puzzle has implications for nanoparticle and nanomaterial designs, but also for understanding the architecture supporting different cells pulled and pushed together in our bodies.

Written by John Ankers

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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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