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Crab Nebula or heart-building protein?

COS cell.jpg
Heart-builder COS cells plan the heart cell architecture

By James Dacey

Although this colourful image may strongly resemble the Crab Nebula, it is in fact a type of cell called a COS cell, found in the human heart where they regulate the structure of biological tissue. The image was produced in by Joseph Dwyer at King’s College London, who stained an isolated cell using fluorescent antibodies before capturing the image with a microscope. The image was one of seven short-listed for a competition ‘Reflections of Research’, which was held of the British Heart foundation. You can see the other impressive images here.

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One comment to Crab Nebula or heart-building protein?

  1. Peter Wolczuk

    Structures tend to be in a certain shape for a reason; in that the shape helps to serve the purpose which its nature brings it to. The more effective examples will inevitably dominate and squeeze out the less effective examples.
    I wonder what simple physics are involved in the fact that the Crab Nebula and the COS cells have arrived at a similar shape.
    By simple physics I mean such tendencies as all varieties of a lever functioning best when the fulcrum is closer to the load than to the place of force application.
    Perhaps there is something to learn why function led to such a similar form in two seemingly unrelated instances.

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