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Scientists Calculate the Speed of Death In Cells And It's 30 Micrometers Per Minute - Slashdot

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Live Science: Scientists found that death travels in unremitting waves through a cell, moving at a rate of 30 micrometers (one-thousandth of an inch) every minute, they report in a new study published Aug. 10 in the journal Science. That means, for instance, that a nerve cell, whose body can reach a size of 100 micrometers, could take as long as 3 minutes and 20 seconds to die. Apoptosis -- or programmed cell death -- is necessary for clearing our bodies of unnecessary or harmful cells, such as those that are infected by viruses. It also helps shape organs and other features in a developing fetus.

To figure this out, Ferrell and his team observed the process in one of the larger cells present in nature: egg cells of Xenopus laevis, or African clawed frogs. They filled test tubes with fluid from the eggs and triggered apoptosis, which they watched unfold by tagging involved proteins with fluorescent light. If they saw fluorescent...(continued)

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