jueves, 31 de mayo de 2012

Ink injection reveals chick embryo's beating heart

ORIGINAL: New Scientist
February 2012
Sandrine Ceurstemont, editor, New Scientist TV

Like a living work of art, a chick embryo's beating heart and intricate pattern of blood vessels are exposed as it's injected with ink under a microscope. Captured by biologist Anna Franz from the University of Oxford as she attempted the technique for the first time, the video has just won first place in the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.

The movie shows how blood vessels inside and outside the embryo are connected, as well as revealing the direction of blood flow through arteries and veins. The technique is often used by researchers to visualise how nutrients and oxygen are transported to an embryo and to study how a heart functions and develops.

According to Franz, the procedure was relatively quick and easy to perform. A window was first cut into the egg to expose the 72 hour-old embryo before it was placed under a microscope. Then a capillary needle was carefully inserted into an artery in the yolk sac, releasing ink throughout the network of blood vessels.

The technique gives insight into both chick and human circulatory systems since they are very similar. "An increased understanding of the development and function of the heart and blood vessels can help to discover novel ways of healing wounds and treating cancer and cardiovascular diseases," says Franz.

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