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Filming Blood Vessel Cells Enables Researchers to Understand Cancer Cells' Migration

By Bob Ewing     Mar 26, 2008 in Health
A new method of filming blood-vessel cells that move in accordance with targeted signals has been developed by researchers at Uppsala University in collaboration with researchers at the University of California.
Researchers at Uppsala University are using a new method of filming blood-vessel cells that move in accordance with targeted signals; they are in collaboration with researchers at the University of California. The method can also be used to study how migration of cancer cells and nerves can be controlled.
The teams’ findings have now been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The University press release says that the formation of new blood cells and lymph vessels takes place with a number of different diseases. Sometimes, the formation of new cells is desirable, e.g. in the event of wound healing, when new tissue must be formed.
Tumour growth is an example of undesirable vessel formation the tumour receives nutrition from the new blood vessels and can also spread via newly formed lymph vessels, thus prevention of vessel growth is desirable in this situation.
Understanding the signals governing the way vessels are formed is a major challenge in the field of medicine is. It has been proposed that targeted signals – so-called gradients – from growth factors instruct the vessels as to the direction in which they are to grow.
"Our study shows that a simple gradient from a signal protein is sufficient to tell the blood vessel cell in which direction it is to move. We have also been able to show that the form of the gradient governs the way in which the cell moves," says Irmeli Barkefors, a postgraduate student at Uppsala University.
The team is now going to develop the method further. Their goal is to be able to study targeted migration in complicated organ culture systems, whereby interaction between different cell types can be studied.
"The method can basically be adapted to facilitate study of all types of cells. It is particularly important to study the mechanisms that determine whether or not cancer cells spread," says researcher Johan Kreuger, who has been heading the project.
More about Bllod vessels, Cancer cells, Nerves