MIT biomedical image gallery 2023

MIT biomedical image gallery 2023

Using microscopes to observe living things has been one of the most powerful ways to understand how biology works, at least since Dutch naturalist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first zoomed in on bacteria in the 1600s. Today, high-magnification images can help design new medical tools, enrich our understanding of diseases, and explain how embryos develop. And, as shown by the 2023 winners from MIT Koch Institute Image Awardsthey can also be works of art.

The image above shows Arabidopsis thaliana pollen with proteins removed from their nuclear lamina, a membrane of dense filaments that give cells structure. People with laminar deficiency (a mutation seen in several skeletal and muscular conditions) generally cannot live more than 20 years, according to biologists at MIT’s Whitehead Institute and the Koch Institute who took this photo. They glued the beads to carbon tape and imaged them using a Zeiss Crossbeam microscope. Without these proteins, pollen also appears misshapen—also underscoring the importance of this meshwork for plants.

mRNA in fruit fly sperm is highlighted during cellular development.
Drosophila fruit flies produce some of the largest sperm of the animal kingdom, but they do not synthesize new messenger RNA. This image shows a cyst of spermatids that have begun the process of elongation. The nuclei are at one end of the cyst (white) and the sperm tails extend from the other end of the cyst. Red and cyan show two different types of mRNA—red is diffuse throughout the cyst, while cyan is polarized at one end. Jaclyn Fingerhut, Yukiko Yamashita; Whitehead Institute
Two cells are frozen as they divide.
The center of this image shows a plasma bridge, with long DNA inside, between two dividing cells that have failed to divide. Such splicing errors can result in cancerous mutations. Teemu Miettinen, Scott Manalis; Koch Institute at MIT
A particle developed for long-term storage of an mRNA vaccine.
This microscale particle was developed for long-term storage of an mRNA vaccine. A polymer coating (pink) protects and stabilizes the dried mRNA vaccine (blue). Eventually, the container is attached to a dissolvable needle and injected into the body to release multiple doses of the active vaccine. Linzixuan (Rhoda) Zhang, Jooli Han, Laboni Santra, Xinyan Pan, Robert Langer, Ana Jaklenec; Koch Institute at MIT
Tissue development of a fruit fly embryo.
Tissue formation in a Drosophila fruit fly embryos. On the left, nuclei in gray are connected by new cell junctures, marked in orange. On the right, cell borders are mapped with randomly assigned colors to track them as they change. In the middle, the newly formed structure fold pulls the two edges inward. Mary Ann Collins, Adam Martin; MIT Department of Biology
A cross-section of microparticles designed to deliver drugs and vaccines.
A 35-micron slice of microparticle “core shell” implanted under the skin of a mouse for a week. It was sectioned, then photographed using a confocal microscope to understand how the mouse’s immune system responded to it and whether it was damaged. As a medical tool, the “core” of the grain can be filled with vaccines, drugs, or other cargo. William Rothwell, Morteza Sarmadi, Maria Kanelli, Robert Langer, Ana Jaklenec; Koch Institute at MIT
A mouse colon targeted by a radiation beam.
This mouse colon was irradiated with a focused beam to induce DNA damage in the nuclei in a region of interest (pink) without affecting neighboring cells (blue). Molecular biologists hope that this approach will help physicians identify therapeutic combinations that improve clinical radiation. Daniel Schmidt, Iva Gramatikov, Matthew Vander Heiden; Koch Institute at MIT