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2017 Nikon Small World Competition Winner

Find out more about this year's Nikon Small World competition winner.

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2017 Nikon Small World Competition Winner: skin cell

Image by Dr. Bram van den Broek

Nikon has recently announced the winner of the annual 'Small World' competition. 

The competition, now in its 43rd year, is for microphotography images and this year, Dr. Bram van den Broek of The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) is the winner with his image of a skin cell expressing an excessive amount of keratin. 

He came across this peculiar but beautiful skin cell while researching the dynamics of keratin filaments with Andriy Volkov, a student in the Cell Biophysics group led by Professor Kees Jalink.

“There are more than 50 different keratin proteins known in humans. The expression patterns of keratin are often abnormal in skin tumour cells, and it is thus widely used as tumour marker in cancer diagnostics,” said Dr. van den Broek. “By studying the ways different proteins like keratin dynamically change within a cell, we can better understand the progression of cancers and other diseases.”

Keratin is an important structural protein in skin cells. The keratin fibrous network protects the cells against mechanical stress and is involved in many other cellular functions, like cell migration and adhesion. Studying the structure, dynamics and regulation of the keratin network can reveal information about such processes and potentially identify cell abnormalities. In certain types of cancer, for instance, reduced amounts of specific keratins are indicative for tumour aggressiveness.

As part of Nikon’s 100th anniversary celebration, the winners of the 2017 Nikon Small World and Nikon Small World in Motion competitions, received a trip to Tokyo, Japan, to visit Nikon’s headquarters and to participate in an exclusive tour of the factory and facilities.

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