Scientists discover odd new shape called the ‘scutoid’

Scientists discover odd new shape called the ‘scutoid’

"It's not going to be the circle or the square, but we have been able to name a new shape", Buceta told Gizmodo. The shape looks like a long five-sided prism with a diagonal face sliced off one end, giving that end six sides. It has been previously assumed that epithelial cells form into column-like or bottle-like shapes as they pack tightly together to accommodate the transformation of the embryo. To find out if the odd shape exists in nature, the researchers used microcopy and computer imaging to take an up-close look at the epithelial tissues of fruit flies and zebrafish. But that's not all that's out there-there are dozens of funky shapes that scientists, engineers and biologists have classified, including things like the hemihelix, discovered in 2014, which resembles a kinked Slinky.

It's not every day a new shape is discovered, so systems biologist Javier Buceta, who's credited as a co-author of the study, was grateful for the opportunity to name a new shape. Some have proposed they were shaped like prisms or cylinders, but a new paper published in Nature shows how scientists used computer modeling and imaging to settle the question once and for all.

"Our model predicted that as the curvature of the tissue increases, columns and bottle-shapes were not the only shapes that cells [developed]". And just now, they identified a new shape called the scutoid which explains it all. As tissues and organs develop, epithelial cells squish together, twisting and turning into highly efficient and complex three-dimensional structures that help block microbes from entering our skin or organs. And epithelial cells need to do some pretty extreme bending and curving during embryonic development too.

"The epithelia form structures with multiple functions like forming a barrier against infections or absorbing nutrients".

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The study is the result of an worldwide collaboration between the teams of Luis M. Escudero (Seville University, Spain) and that of Javier Buceta, associate professor of bioengineering at Lehigh. While the discovery occurred during observation of human cells, the name's origin comes from the scutellum - the rear part of an insect's thorax.

The results of this research could help experts understand the three-dimensional organization of epithelial organs and may ultimately lead to advancements in tissue engineering.

The scutoid is the shape that many of your skin and organ cells likely take.

For example, since scutoid-shaped cells are so efficient at staying packed together during development, they could be great for growing artificial organs, because they would offer architectural stability when a tissue bends.

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