Eskitis imagery

  • These olfactory ensheathing cells from the nose wrap around the smell sense nerves and help them grow back into the brain after injury. The cells may one day be used to repair other nerves In the image, the cells are extending a sheet of cell membrane covered with thin finger-like projections. These filopodia are very mobile and search their local environment for other cells.
  • The tremors and shakes of Parkinson’s disease are caused when the dopamine-producing neurons degenerate. This image shows a section through the mouse brain showing dopamine-producing cells in green. Research has shown that it may be possible to replace these nerve cells by taking olfactory stem cells from the Parkinson’s patient’s nose, treating them to develop into new dopamine-producing neurons, and then transplanting them back into the patient.
  • Macrophages are immune system cells which seek, engulf and destroy microorganisms to protect the body against infection. To sense its environment and make contact with microorganisms, macrophages extend thin fingers called filopodia from their surface. This image shows purple macrophages surrounding a cell and shows the variation in the size and shape of macrophages produced in response to infection.
  • This image is a section of a mouse embryo. Stained with fluorescent dye, this spectacular tissue architecture shows early development of the mouse chest cavity – lung, heart, ribs, skeletal and muscle fibres. To an untrained eye, the arrangement of cells and tissues can appear random. But their structure and arrangement are absolutely crucial to their function.
  • This image is of two cells isolated from a rat’s nervous system. The green actin filaments are cell proteins involved in cell movement and attachment. The red parts are mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. By staining and measuring changes in the prevalence of different cell components, we can understand what goes wrong with cells as a result of different diseases.
  • This is a cross-section of a sciatic nerve from the leg of a rat. The nerve cells include neurofilaments in red, astrocytes in green and cell nuclei in blue. To study the degeneration of nerves and other tissues we need to have a clear idea of what a healthy nerve looks like. We use this knowledge as a baseline, to enable us to identify and measure changes in the cells due to disease.
  • This cross section of a mouse embryo shows neurons stained green, allowing us to see the individual cell types. The red shows up other nerve cell types. The size, shape and number of different nerve cell types can tell us much about progression of neurodegenerative diseases, and what is needed to halt or reverse this progression.
  • A forest of olfactory nerves from the nose of a mouse. The mouse has been engineered to create a green fluorescent protein, originally found in coral, in every one of its nerve cells. This GFP-labelling of cells is a common technique and is a critical tool in studying how cells, tissues and organs recover and grow back after injury.
  • This computer-generated image created from data provided by a process called X-Ray crystallography, shows how a small molecule binds to a pocket inside a larger protein molecule. This binding tells us how drugs and the body’s proteins interact. The larger surrounding structure, a protein called carbonic anhydrase II, is common in the body and may have roles in a variety of diseases, including cancer and malaria.
  • Microcentrifuge tubes like these are a very common sight in chemistry and biology labs. They play a critical role in separation of cells and cell parts by centrifugation, that is, spinning at extremely high speeds. Even small centrifuges can exert a force of up to 30,000g on these tubes (an average person passes out at 5g).
  • The olfactory epithelium is part of the organ of the sense of smell. This image of the developing olfactory epithelium uses chemical markers that enable us to see nerve cells in green and red. This image also shows nerve cells migrating to establish the olfactory nerve, which carries information on what we smell from the olfactory mucosa (the organ of the sense of smell) to the brain.
  • A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is a loss of neurons that produce dopamine, coupled with an increase in microglia, cells that constantly scavenge the nervous system for dead or dying neurons. This image is of a rat’s substantia nigra, which is a part of the brain related to reward, addiction and movement. The image shows a dopaminergic neuron (red) and microglia (yellow). Imaging like this allows us to closely track changes in brain pathology as neurodegeneration progresses.
  • This image of a section of olfactory epithelium shows us what’s going on up your nose. The spidery red filaments are nerve filaments growing into a field of deep blue cells. The pearly white sequins are muscle cells. The olfactory epithelium is a thin layer of cells at the top of the nasal cavity. It houses nerves and sensory cells involved in detecting smell and transmitting this information to the brain.
  • This image shows a cross section of the mouse brain. The blue dots are cell nuclei while the green cells are from the body’s innate immune system. A partner to the adaptive immune system, which produces antibodies to infection, the innate immune system provides a quick response to injury and inflammation. How the brain responds to inflammation is important to understanding nerve growth following spinal injury.
  • This image shows the olfactory nerve in green. The olfactory nerve carries signals from the olfactory mucosa in the nose, into the olfactory bulb of the brain. Without it, nothing would smell of anything. The red cells are supporting glial cells which are may play a role in regenerating the nerve after damage. Our research is revealing that the nose can be both a window and a door to the brain.
  • This image shows nerves in the olfactory bulb, a structure in the front of the brain that deals with the sense of smell. Changes to your sense of smell can be a symptom of a neurodegenerative disease. Eskitis is the host of the Australian Database of Olfactory Function, which tests the sense of smell of hundreds of people to ask “what is normal?” We are investigating the sense of smell as an early warning for brain diseases such as Parkinson’s.
  • Cells of different types are often difficult to tell apart, even under a microscope. Biologists need to use stains to see different parts of the cell. This image shows a set of four different chemical stains used to pick out different cells in a section of mouse brain. The red cells are microglia, which act as immune surveillance cells, finding and consuming cells that are dead or dying as a result of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or schizophrenia.
  • This image, taken under fluorescent light, shows a glass pipette loaded with Sema4D, a protein thought to play a role in the development of the nervous system. By injecting the protein out of the pipette we can set up a concentration gradient and measure how this affects the migration of the nerve cell as it detects the Sema4D. This is useful as it simulates the complex environment faced by nerve cells as they grow and develop in the body.
  • This section through a mouse brain shows Purkinje cells (green) along with astrocytes (red). A single Purkinje cell (glowing green) is very well connected, and can have as many as 200,000 contacts, or synapses, with other nerves. The loss of Purkinje neurons in the brain is a feature of the disease of Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T), a debilitating condition that can lead to brain damage, cancer and lung disease.

Every year the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery holds a scientific photography competition, open to staff and students, to capture striking and real research images. Visualisation of processes within cells and tissues is an important technique and a key step to understanding disease biology.

Click on the images above to open the gallery.

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