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Image of Research 2nd Place Winner

Butterfly in the Spine

Xiaoyu Hu, Biopharmaceutical Sciences

When I captured this image, it had been a long cold winter with long days and nights in the lab. Suddenly, a colorful butterfly appeared under my microscope to say hello. Spring was around the corner! For the past two years, I have been researching multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Pain in multiple sclerosis patients, with remarkable prevalence up to ~90%, significantly reduces quality of life. My study attempts to identify CaMKIIα, a key signaling molecule as a mechanism and a potential pharmacologic target for pain associated with multiple sclerosis. Pictured is a spinal cord section taken from mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model for multiple sclerosis. The slice was stained with antibodies for phosphorylated CaMKIIα (green) representing the activation of CaMKIIα and NeuN (red) as a neuronal marker. DAPI (blue) was used to counterstain the nuclei. The spinal dorsal horn, a major area for pain transmission and processing, is highlighted by the green fluorescence, revealing the activation of CaMKIIα in multiple sclerosis. I hope that my research will result in the relief of pain for multiple sclerosis patients, such as the renewal of spring brings after a long winter.