Scientists discover new shape called scutoid after studying human cells

Scientists have discovered a new shape called scutoid while studying nature’s way of molding tissue to form the skin, cavity linings and the building blocks of organs. The shape has five sides on one end and six on the other and a triangular surface on one of its longer edges. Scientists have referred to it as a twisted prism kind of shape that allows the tissue to mold around organs.

Epithelial tissue, one of the four kinds of tissue that forms the human body, is composed of epithelial cells packed together in a particular formation that has been given a nifty name: scutoid. The name is a reference to its similarity to the scutellum, the lowest most segment of an insect’s thorax, the midsection. The resemblance is striking if one looks at the posterior of a Protaetia speciosa beetle of the Cetoniinae sub-family.

Epithelial cells are the key cells during embryonic development and are the building blocks of tissues and organs. Epithelial tissue doesn’t just form complex 3D shapes and the outer skin layer but also the inner lining of blood vessels. The research that is the result of a US-EU collaboration first discovered the existence of the new shape through computations modeling, which was later confirmed through experiments investigating its presence in different kinds of tissues and animals.

Apart from the novelty of the finding, it is significant for the understanding of epithelial organs and will contribute to the field of tissue engineering specifically development of artificial organs. The paper titled ‘Scutoids are a geometrical solution to the three-dimensional packing of epithelia’, was published in Nature Communications

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