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News

10Oct 2017

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Stunning keratin cell wins international award

Nikon small world competition microscopy photography Bram vd Broek

Microscopy expert Bram van den Broek has won the Nikon Small World Competition with this beautiful picture of a skin cell expressing an excessive amount of the protein keratin (yellow). The award consist $3000 and a visit to two Nikon factories and the award ceremony in Tokyo, Japan on October 10th. The picture is exhibited in the central hall of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

While researching the dynamics of the protein keratin in skin cells called keratinocytes Bram van den Broek stumbled upon this peculiar cell. With Kees Jalink's research group he studies this protein because it plays an important role in the movement of cells and in cancer. "Keratin is widely used as a tumor marker in cancer diagnostics, since skin tumor cells often have an abnormal amount and localization of the protein", says Van den Broek. "By studying the dynamics of keratin within cells we can better understand the progression of cancer and other diseases."

"The cell in the picture is not a cancer cell", he emphasizes. "It's just a beautiful, remarkable cell with an excessive amount of keratin. When you study a lot of cells under a microscope you sometimes bump into strange cells."

This one cell inspired Van den Broek: he decided to color the - originally grayscale - microscopic image and send it to Nikon for the Small World Competition, a leading photography competition for microscopy images. His image takes first place after competing with over two thousand beautiful microscopic pictures that were submitted by microscopy lovers worldwide. "This year's winning photo is an example of important work being done in the world of science, and that work can be shared thanks to rapidly advancing imaging technology," comments a Nikon spokesman.

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