March 27, 2008--
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. The method can also be used to study how migration of
cancer cells and nerves can be controlled. These interesting findings
have now been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
of new blood cells and lymph vessels takes place with a number of
different diseases. Formation of new cells is sometimes desirable, e.g.
in the event of wound healing, when new tissue must be formed.
Undesirable vessel formation takes place in the event of tumour growth.
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.
A major challenge in the field of medicine is understanding the signals
governing the way vessels are formed. 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.
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
The research group is now going to develop
the method further. The aim 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 researchers Johan Kreuger, who has
been heading the project.