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Researchers from The Babraham Institute in Cambridge and University of Oxford are studying how cells communicate with each other using chemical messages to translate events occurring outside the cell into a response, which may provide insights into the processes governing healthy ageing.

Calcium ions are important chemical messengers affecting many cell processes including muscle contraction, fertilisation and neural activity. Problems with calcium levels in the body underlie numerous health problems including high blood pressure, heart failure, cancer and bipolar disorders. Researchers are studying how calcium levels affect cardiovascular cells and how it can negatively impact on heart rhythm and the genes controlling heart size.

“Understanding how calcium regulates the heart may provide clues for the development of novel preventative drugs for cardiovascular disease, the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually in the UK,” says Professor Sir Michael Berridge FRS, Emeritus Fellow at The Babraham Institute.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to see how calcium signals govern cell processes like heart contraction, find out how certain compounds can affect heart rate, and learn about the innovative techniques used to see where molecules are found in cells. Visitors can learn about the variation of animal heart rate through an exciting ‘hands-on’ display and interactive touch-screens.

Exhibited by The Babraham Institute; University of Oxford

See all exhibits from 2010