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Mouse Study Can Illuminate How Tumors Manipulate The Human Vascular System

Date:
April 16, 2008
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Tumors use the body's blood system for their own purposes: They stimulate the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumor. Medical treatment blocks this process in order to restrain tumors. Scientists have now developed a method for producing a complex human vascular system in mice.
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Tumors use the body's blood system for their own purposes: They stimulate the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumor. Medical treatment blocks this process in order to restrain tumors. Scientists have now developed a method for producing a complex human vascular system in mice.

Researchers of the German Cancer Research Center are studying in mice how tumors manipulate the human vascular system. The formation of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis, is an Achilles' heel of tumor growth, because tumors depend on the supply of oxygen and nutrients for survival. Therefore, for some years now substances called angiogenesis inhibitors have been used in cancer treatment to suppress this process. In order to advance this new research field, a team of researchers headed by Professor Hellmut Augustin has developed a method to create a complex human vascular system in mice, which stays functional even after several months.

The method is based on the observation that isolated cells of the vessel walls, called endothelial cells, congregate spontaneously in cell cultures to form aggregates known as spheroids. "Individual endothelial cells floating in suspension are doomed to die -- the association in spheroids stabilizes them," says Hellmut Augustin.

The scientists Abdullah Alajati and Anna Laib have been able to inject such spheroids, embedded in a gel matrix, under the skin of mice and to stimulate the formation of a network of human blood vessels by means of growth factors. The mice were genetically modified in such a way that their immune system was unable to reject the foreign cells. "The newly formed blood vessels are made exclusively of human endothelial cells," explains Anna Laib, a young researcher at the DKFZ. "At the matrix borders the human endothelial cells establish contact with those of the mouse. In this way, the transplanted human vasculature gets connected to the blood circulation of the mouse."

The method provides experimental freedom and may deliver answers to various questions of vascular biology research. Scientists can genetically manipulate the endothelial cells before transplantation in order to investigate the formation of vascular networks. In addition, it is possible to test the effect of pharmacological substances; the Freiburg-based company ProQinase GmbH, which is involved in the study, is already conducting such experiments. "The method is even interesting for the production of artificial tissues," Hellmut Augustin says. "So far, one difficulty with the use of artificial replacement tissues has been to create a functioning vascular system that sufficiently supplies the tissue constructs."

Journal reference: Abdullah Alajati, Anna M Laib, Holger Weber, Anja M Boos, Arne Bartol, Kristian Ikenberg, Thomas Korff, Hanswalter Zentgraf, Cynthia Obodozie, RalphGraeser, Sven Christian, Günter Finkenzeller, G Björn Stark, Mélanie Héroult & Hellmut G Augustin: Spheroid-based engineering of a human vasculature in mice. Nature Methods, April 2008, DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1198


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Materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Mouse Study Can Illuminate How Tumors Manipulate The Human Vascular System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414102414.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2008, April 16). Mouse Study Can Illuminate How Tumors Manipulate The Human Vascular System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414102414.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Mouse Study Can Illuminate How Tumors Manipulate The Human Vascular System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414102414.htm (accessed April 16, 2024).

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