ectopic eyes


“Dr Levin is a researcher from Tufts University in Massachusetts, whose work focuses on organ placement in the body.

He believes that his work could soon extend beyond animals and into humans. For example, it could allow soldiers to regrow arms on the battlefield if lost to a bomb…

In 2013, Dr Levin surgically removed the eyes of donor tadpoles and grafted them onto the backs of recipient tadpoles, which induced the growth of ectopic - or abnormally placed - eyes. Recipient tadpoles had their natural eyes removed, so only the ectopic, spinal cord-connected eyes remained.

Dr Levin said: ‘The [tadpole’s] ability to see when ectopic eyes are connected to spinal cord and not directly to the brain was stunning.

‘A primary goal in medicine is to one day be able to restore the function of damaged or missing sensory structures through the use of biological or artificial replacement components…’

Another of Dr Levin’s experiments in 2015 saw free-living flatworms growing specific head shapes and brains characteristic of other species of flatworm, and the changes were beyond skin deep.

By interrupting protein channels called gap junctions, which pass electrical signals between cells, Dr Levin changed the distribution of the worm’s adult stem cells, along with the shape of the head and brain.

‘It is commonly thought that the sequence and structure of chromatin - material that makes up chromosomes - determine the shape of an organism, but these results show that the function of physiological networks can override the species-specific default anatomy,’ said Dr Levin.

‘By modulating the connectivity of cells via electrical synapses, we were able to derive head morphology and brain patterning belonging to a completely different species from an animal with a normal genome…’

Most recently in May 2016, Dr Levin used lasers to reprogram tumour cells to become harmless again.

Cancer cells emit 'faulty’ electrical signals, that leads them to divide uncontrollably.

Dr Levin used gene therapy to make these cells 'light-sensitive’ meaning lasers could then alter their cancer-causing signals.

But Dr Levin has bigger hopes for regenerative medicine.

He told Popular Science: 'The endgame of this field is complete specification of shape.

'You’d be able to sit down on a computer, like in Photoshop, and draw what you want, and out it comes.

'If you said, “I want a triangular frog with seven legs, and the eyes should be over here,” I don’t see any reason you couldn’t do that…’


scrumpyfan43  asked:

I heard about your campaign for governor and want to know what I can do to help from out of state, even if it's just to advance your agenda in other states (more eyes)

I was going to make a ‘please collude with (Russian dignitary)’ joke but that might come back to bite me if I ever actually ran for office. i don’t know what’s real and what counts anymore but I’m going to play it safe

please disseminate the message that this is our glorious future

all of the little red patches are places where the drosophila developed ectopic (nonfunctional) eyes - almost structurally identical to its actual eyes, but not connected to the kind of nervous infrastructure needed to process the data that the ectopic eyes collect. so sort of like if you grafted an ear to your knee, it wouldn’t ‘hear’, but it would ‘ear’. it would just be an ear on your knee.

‘eyeless’ (ey) is a master control gene in the morphogenesis of eyes in drosophila - it regulates as many as 2,500 genes related to eye development. turning ‘on’ the expression of ey in a specific tissue prompts the downstream activation of just about all of the complex processes that instruct drosophila’s tissues to turn into eyes. you can read a lot about the physiology and genetics behind this in Halder et al’s 1995 paper, Induction of Ectopic Eyes by Targeted Expression of the Eyeless Gene in Drosophila

GAL4 is a transcription factor that, as part of the UAS-GAL4 system, allows ectopic expression of desired genes in drosophila by crossing a ‘driver’ line, in which GAL4 is expressed in a particular pattern - say, in the fly’s imaginal discs - and a UAS line, in which a genetic payload, such as eyeless, is inserted downstream of the UAS binding site that GAL4, a yeast transcription factor, recognizes. When GAL4 binds with the UAS promotor in the offspring of the two lines, the gene inserted downstream of the UAS binding site is ‘turned on’ in any cell expressing the GAL4 enhancer.

the result is a Friend! At the junctures of his wings and haltere discs, the GAL4 enhancer and the UAS promoter unite to induce ectopic expression of ‘eyeless’, which results in those little red beads where one might expect to see legs and wings.

my platform for governor, at the moment, is that more flies should have more eyes, in as many locations as possible. further research into genetics and the ways that we can manipulate genetics is immeasurably valuable in understanding the ways that humans develop - we (humans) have a homologous gene called Aniridia that similarly governs the way that our eyes are formed and function.

what I’m really advocating for here is lots and lots of science education, for anyone who is willing to listen to me talk for a few minutes, and the opportunity for as many people as are interested to become familiar with genetics and the role of research science in their lives and their interactions with healthcare institutions, with medicine, and with their day to day lives. the more we can understand the world around us, the more information we have with which to make decisions. I would like everyone who wants the opportunity to put eyes on flies, or to look at flies with many eyes, to be able to do so.

also, there is a rapturous joy in creation! and all life is beautiful, especially life with many, many eyes with which to gaze upon their creators with love. I think a love of life and a love of creation accompanies the demystification of the process. we could all use a little more love of life and its preservation.

if you don’t live in florida, consider taking a moment to marvel at a nice insect today, or gaze at a person you care about and tell them how much you love them in support of my mission

More Eyes More Taking Care Of Each Other 2018