Brain cancer stem cells from a brain tumor
Normal stem cells are characterized by their ability to divide indefinitely and generate all of the specialized cell types that make up their host tissue. Cancer stem cells are remarkably similar but possess a key difference: they generate cells that give rise to tumors. Conventional chemotherapy may fail to eliminate cancer stem cells from a tumor, so while the tumor initially shrinks in size, it could eventually grow back and cause an aggressive relapse. Understanding the molecules that distinguish cancer stem cells from other cells will arm researchers with the knowledge to generate targeted therapies against cancer stem cells.
Image by Dr. Biplab Dasgupta, Jane Anderson, Shabnam Pooya, Mariko DeWire, and Lili Miles, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fluorescently glowing rat hearts
While our hearts may seem fragile at times, they are more resilient than you think. When the going gets tough, hearts protect themselves from damage through a phenomenon known as ischemic preconditioning. Short, subsequent episodes of reduced blood flow to the heart cause the heart to safeguard itself from future harm. Think like fire drills: The more you practice them, the faster and more efficiently you can get out of harms way. Ischemic preconditioning is so effective that dog hearts going through these “fire drills” had a 75% reduction in tissue damage compared to unprepared hearts. Understanding how ischemic preconditioning occurs will help scientists develop therapies for at-risk patients.
Image by Dr. Miguel Mano, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Chile.

Vorticella sp.
Vorticella are microscopic inverted bell-shaped cells that attach to surfaces with a long stalk, swaying precariously in their environment. If a Vorticella is touched, it contracts at more than 100 times its length per second thanks to its myoneme, a tightly coiled fiber inside the Vorticella stalk. This “duck and cover” mechanism allows Vorticella to evade potential predators, only peeking out and uncoiling to check for safety after several seconds.
Image by Frank Fox.

Human cortical neural stem cells
Cortical neurons are located in the cerebral cortex of the brain, a region responsible for memory, thought, language, and consciousness. Neural stem cells are “immature” cells committed to become neurons and helper cells of the brain. Neurons are the liaison between our brain and the world. When we eat a lemon, neurons connected to our taste buds tell the brain that it’s sour. Messages from the brain can also be sent elsewhere, as when neurons command muscles to contract while lifting a heavy object.
Image by Kimmy Lorrain, BrainCells, Inc.

Sticky glands from a Cape sundew
Drosera capensis, or the Cape sundew, is a carnivorous plant covered with sticky tentacles. Insects become trapped in the sap-covered tentacles and activate the plant’s touch response, called thigmotropism. Within thirty minutes, the sundew rolls its leaves towards its center, ensnaring and enveloping its prey in digestive juices.
Image by José R. Almodóvar, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

Malachite with Chrysocolla Partially polished Stalactite Congo