Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Mother's Milk

Insight into changes in breast cells during lactation – clues for understanding breastfeeding problems and cancer

12 February 2022

Mother's Milk

Breastfeeding – the most natural thing in the world? Yet, some women struggle to produce enough milk. Why though is something we know little about. In the search for new options for these women, we need to understand how the breast changes during pregnancy in preparation for lactation. Researchers compared cells from non-lactating mammary glands (left) with those found in milk samples from breastfeeding women (right; images show cells grown in 3D culture). The milk-producing cells had similarities to luminal progenitor cells from the non-lactating women – cells that can reproduce rapidly to give rise to more cells, and potentially milk cells. Luminal progenitor cells are also thought to be the origin of many aggressive breast cancers. By studying how these progenitor cells create milk-producing cells during lactation, not only could we find ways to help women with low milk supply, but also work out what goes wrong in cancers.

Written by Sophie Arthur

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

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.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.