Watch How a Real Kidney Grows From Cells Into an Organ

By Jamie Condliffe on at

We all grow from a small grouping of cells into fully fledged adults, but rarely do we get to see the process in action. In this video, researchers have peered into a mouse kidney, to watch how cells branch out to form the organ's internal pipework.

The images, a time-lapse created by Nils Lindstrom from the University of Edinburgh, also reveal how a protein called beta-catenin prompts the organ's cells to create the internal plumbing network in the kidneys, made up of winding tubes called nephrons. The yellow areas show where that protein is most active, and the results seem to suggest that its presence determines which part of the structure the surrounding cells should form.

It's a neat insight, but it could also allow scientists to tweak the growth of organs when they form incorrectly, by adjusting the activity of the protein. [eLife via New Scientist]