- 🤧🦠 Did you know that the bugs that cause diseases and cancer cells can fake their "car's license plate" to move illegally through your body without being detected? -

🏙 Imagine your body as a vast and sprawling metropolis, with all the cells of your tissues represented by different types of vehicles. 🚚 Now, each vehicle (cell) has its own unique license plate, the sugars, visible to everyone, giving it its identity. Just as with cars, the license plate provides details about the vehicle's owner, its status, and its function. This way, if a car is functioning properly and following traffic rules, it can continue its journey without issues. But if a car shows signs of malfunction or acts suspiciously, the police can intervene.

👮‍♂️ The traffic police (cells of your immune system) patrol every street and every corner of the city, closely watching each passing vehicle.
🚨 How do they do it? Well, they have special scanners that allow them to quickly read and decode the license plates. These scanners are known as Lectins, a type of protein that specializes in recognizing sugars.

🦠🤫 However, there are illegal cars (microorganisms and cancer cells) that try to move around the city by faking their license plate to look like those of local cars, a trick to deceive the police. This is called "license plate mimicry" (glycan mimicry). These cars can cause traffic jams, accidents, or even damage the city's infrastructure.

🚓 That's why it's important for the police to be extremely precise in their work, because if they stop and fine a local car by mistake, it can cause unnecessary problems (like autoimmune diseases). On the other hand, if they don't correctly identify illegal vehicles, the city can succumb to disease.

🍰 The study of car license plates, that is, the sugars (glycans) that adorn all the cells in your body and their role in the immune response is known as glyco-biology.

🇦🇷 This is precisely what Dr. Gabriel Rabinovich, an Argentine researcher from CONICET (GalTec), studies, and he has significantly contributed not only to the understanding of all these mechanisms, but also, to the development of new therapies against cancer and autoimmune diseases.

🙆🏻‍♂️ Thanks to Dr. Gabriel Rabinovich and Dr. Salomé Pinho for inviting me to collaborate with my scientific illustrations, in this fascinating review about immune-regulatory networks coordinated by glycans and lectins in autoimmunity and infection.

Illustration requested by Dr. Gabriel Rabinovich (IBYME-CONICET) and Dr. Salomé Pinho (IRIH, UoO). Published in Cellular & molecular immunology, Aug 2023 To read more about this review click here
Team Image

-The oldest illustrations-

The Cave of Altamira, located at the Spanish region of Cantabria, is the first place in the planet where rock art was identified (Upper Paleolithic period) from 36,000 years ago. That means, from the beginning of our civilization, our ancestors used illustrations to describe the world around them. In this particular case, the details of the bison make clear the notions of three-dimensionality, naturalism, abstraction and symbolism of primitive humans.

-Art, Science and Humor-

From rock art, through the great discoveries such as those from da Vinci and Darwin, to the most modern language such as memes, humans use illustration to describe the different dimensions that make up as a species.

-So, what scientific illustration is?-

In particular, scientific illustration is a type of art that allows us to explain different facts of nature through an accurate, simple and clear illustration, connecting each individual with the knwoledge obtained from scientific method.


- How do chameleons change their color? -

Chameleons are a group of reptiles that display three exceptional anatomical adaptations: 1. Being inside their brain (1.a) would be like watching two different movies at the same time in HD quality. Each eye can move independently of the other (1.b), providing a visual range of about 350°. 2. Once their prey is detected, the entoglossal process (2.a) and the accelerator muscle (2.b) release their potential energy and fire the tongue with an acceleration of 1000m/s2. 3. Under stress or during mating seasons, chameleons communicate by changing the color of their skin through cellular arrangements under their epidermis (3.a) called chromatophores (3.b). Each chromatophore in turn exhibits a layer of xanthophores, erythrophores, iridophores, and a basal layer of melanophores (3.c-f, respectively). Thanks to the combination of pigments and the rearrangement of guanine crystals (iridophores), color changes occur within a few minutes.

1st Place of the international “Illustraciencia contest”, IX edition, 2022. Jury award of “scientific illustration” category (from 528 illustrations presented). Work tittle: La Pantera de Madagascar. 2022. KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS ILLUSTRATION
Team Image

- What Rheumatoid Arthritis is? -

🤕 Did you know that while our immune system is crucial for maintaining our health, it can sometimes turn into the worst enemy? This is particularly evident in autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

🔬 Under normal conditions, immune cells such as neutrophils and lymphocytes patrol our bodies, seeking out harmful pathogens and foreign invaders. Yet, in some instances, they mistakenly target our own tissues. In patients with RA, the immune system attacks the joint linings, resulting in chronic painful inflammation that, over time, can damage both cartilage and bone. The intricacies of this disease's mechanisms remain elusive, emphasizing the importance of continued research and drug development to assist those affected.
💊 In the present study, scientists treated RA patients with a drug called "tofacitinib." This medication binds to key molecules on our immune cells (JAK-receptor), leading to two important outcomes:
💡 It disarms effector lymphocytes, typically responsible for joint attacks, by preventing their differentiation and activation.
💡 Tofacitinib induces "senescence" in Lymphocyte T memory cells, causing them to lose vital functionalities.
✅ These findings are undoubtedly exiting for RA research and future findings!

Illustration requested by Dr. Eva Acosta, from CIBICI-CONICET, UNC. Published in European Journal of Immunology


- What matters is invisible to the eye -

"What matters is invisible to the eye," states The Little Prince. A profound insight that can be even more inspiring when we delve into the study of life, in its interstices. Invisible to our own eyes, the living beings that make up plankton (Greek: the wanderer) are a community of microorganisms that float on the surface of both fresh and saltwater bodies, at the mercy of currents. Plankton (phytoplankton and zooplankton) is the base of the marine food chain, essential for the survival and development of all the planet's ecosystems. Together with other organisms such as fish and bacteria, plankton is a fundamental part of the so-called "biological carbon pump", whereby, through photosynthesis, atmospheric CO2 can be fixed and transformed into organic carbon to be stored at the bottom of our oceans. The impact of this invisible mechanism orchestrated by plankton is what allows the great terrestrial ecosystem to maintain the optimal climatic conditions so that life, as we know it, can exist.

Winning illustration of the first mention in the scientific illustration contest of Jot Down magazine, 2022 edition, "The Invisible"

Team Image

- Did you know the "Rocky Balboa" of the seas? -

The mantis shrimp is an evolutionary marvel that captivates both scientists and nature enthusiasts alike. Despite its name, this little crustacean is neither a mantis nor a shrimp. It dwells in tropical and subtropical waters, with sizes ranging from a few centimeters to about 30 cm in some species. One of its most impressive features is its visual system. The eyes of the mantis shrimp are considered among the most sophisticated in the animal kingdom. With up to 16 types of color receptors, these eyes can detect ten times more color than a human eye, including ultraviolet and infrared light. This amazing chromatic ability assists not only in prey detection but also in complex social interactions with their own kind. But it doesn't stop there. Their claws are deadly weapons. Depending on the species, these claws can be 'smashing' or 'spear-like'. The former can easily break the shells of their prey, such as crabs and mollusks, while the latter thrust at lightning speeds, akin to a bullet, to stun or skewer their prey. What's most astonishing is how, despite its modest size, the mantis shrimp has adapted these specializations to dominate its habitat. Scientists continue to study this crustacean not just out of curiosity, but because its unique features might inspire advancements in diverse fields like optics and robotics, highlighting how nature, through millions of years of evolution, can arrive at sophisticated and efficient solutions.


- Every Friday my Alexa remeber me I have to go to the lab -

😍 Ever been so captivated by something that it becomes an undying flame within? For me, that was the thing with animals and natural sciences. As a child, encyclopedias and documentaries were my worlds, as I sketched the majestic lives of any animal I saw onto paper.
😓 Sadly, because relocations (I already changed 3 times of country) and life's unpredictabilities, only a few of those drawings are with me as witnesses to my passion.
🔬In that same vein of love for biology, I first studied for a degree in genetics (Universidad Nacional de Misiones), then pursued a PhD in immunology (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and recently, a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular and molecular biology (The Hospital for Sick Children). During all those years I keep painting and drawing, with ups and downs. Despite the joy I found in delving into the details of different biological processes, for years I felt something was missing.
💡 Then, a turning point. An article in Nature whispered two words to me: "Scientific Illustration". That whisper roared into a pursuit. I bought my first drawing tablet, and the very first stroke I made on it took me to my childhood, sketching animals. By March 2022, I got a master's degree in scientific illustration.
🎨 By August 15th of 2022, a year ago exactly, I had a new calling: I left research bench behind to embark on this new journey. Full of doubts, but with my pen, I jumped to the vacum, earning less than 10% of my previous salary (let's be honest, posdoc fellowship don't pay you so much anyway😅). Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my wife Jimena Leyria for being so supportive in this decision 💚. And here I am, a year ago after reconnected with that child who drew whales and dinosaurs, feeling an immeasurable pleasure in expressing the natural history, biology, and cosmos through shapes and colors, trying to bring scientific knowledge closer to everyone.
😎 So, every Friday at 13:30 my Alexa speaker chimes with reminders of my days in the lab: "this is a reminder, Cell Biology Journal Club". And that makes me happy. Happy to see the whole path that brought me here. But happiest even because, again, I'm diving among animals, cells and graphics, sketching nature and putting science into artistic shapes
😊So, I tell you curious person, friend or client: this is the engine that move my career now. You can spect my best on what I'm doing. Cheers!

PS: As you can see, a pelican drawing from those days, and a note from my school art proffesor: "You are a great artist. Creative in your works, meticulous, perfectionist. Never stop drawing. Take advantage of all the capabilities you have to forge a better future". Signed by: Anita - 1998.


- You may also like -

Click on the image :)

- ¡Happy clients! -

The Hospital for Sick Children, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, University of Harvard, Universidad Austral de Chile, UCT-H Oñativia, SIIC, Hospital Dr. Oñativia, University of Toronto. :)