Posted: April 27, 2014 Filed under: Activities, Public Engagement | Tags: angiogenesis, Blood vessels, endothelial cells, Immune system, Inflammation, Macrophages, Outreach, public engagement, STEM Ambassador, Uveitis, white blood cells
I’ll be working with upper primary school children to make models of the retina, both normal and diseased. Before carrying out these activities, I decided to practice making an eye at home. This project is inspired by Emily Burns who made a giant mammalian cell.
I made a prototype eye depicting three stages of the disease process:
I used a ball and instant paper mache from Amazon to make the structure.
The eye was painted orange. A hole was cut out through which the ‘blood vessels’ (pipe cleaners) will be fed – the optic disc.
Blue pipe cleaners were used as blood vessels.
Blood vessels were painted on. Macrophage (a type of white blood cell) shapes were cut out of a foam sheet. In a normal eye, the resident macrophages are dispersed throughout.
During disease, white blood cells (including macrophages) enter the eye from the blood vessels. The cotton wool depicts the infiltrating blood cells and the green cell shapes are macrophages.
During uveitis, the eye does not go back to normal. Ongoing inflammation eventually leads to more blood vessels forming causing further damage. These ‘new’ blood vessels are surrounded by macrophages which play an important role in their formation.
A retina made out of paper mache showing the stages of uveitis:
Normal – on the top and to the right.
Infiltration of white blood cells – bottom.
Chronic stage associated with the formation of new blood vessels – left.
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