As a major achievement in tumor research, scientists have developed a new tool that can study signals in body that control the generation of blood vessels.
The findings of the study can help in learning which signals in the body attract or repel blood vessels that can further improve the knowledge in tumor research.
The tool is a tiny cell cultivation chamber of silicon plastic in which researchers can cultivate blood-vessel-rich tissue and simultaneously create targeted signals that instruct the vessels to go in a certain direction.
Angiogenesis is the process in the body that forms new blood cells, a process that is vital for life but can also be fatal in the worst case.
Usually, angiogenesis is desirable, for instance, in connection with wound healing, when new tissue needs to be grown. But, undesirable angiogenesis often occurs in connection with tumor growth.
By making use of the newly generated blood vessels in the vicinity of the tumor, tumor cells receive nourishment and oxygen, which creates the conditions for tumor growth.
Thus, one way to limit tumor growth may be to counteract the new formation of blood vessels in the tumor, thereby cutting off the supply of nourishment and oxygen to the diseased area.
Thus, scientists Irmeli Berkefors and Johan Kreuger, focused their study on understanding the signals that control both normal and pathological angiogenesis.
For this, it is important to construct experimental model systems in which they can study how concentration gradients of various signal proteins affect the direction in which a vessel grows.
"Our new method enables us to recreate and study gradients that control how blood vessels grow in the body. This is something of a research breakthrough. Now we can systematically evaluate newly identified signals that we hope can ultimately be used to control angiogenesis," said Johan Kreuger.
The method can also be used to gain new knowledge regarding how tumor cells and nerve cells grow and move toward gradients of signal proteins.
The study is published in the new issue of Lab on a Chip.