This process called angiogenesis involves a number of different growth factors and their respective receptors on the vascular wall cells. The departments of Prof. Dr. Hellmut Augustin and Prof. Dirk Schadendorf of DKFZ and Mannheim Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg have investigated the role of a growth factor called angiopoietin-2 (Ang2) in malignant melanoma. The docking station of Ang2 is the receptor Tie2 on the surface of endothelial cells, which form the inner lining of blood vessels. Together with other signaling molecules, Ang2 induces sprouting of endothelial cells and the formation of new capillaries.
When measuring the Ang2 concentrations in blood samples of melanoma patients, the investigators discovered that larger tumors and more advanced disease stages correlate with high levels of Ang2. If one tracks the Ang2 levels of individual patients over time, a rise parallel to disease progression can be observed. In contrast, patients who have lived with the disease for a long time, i.e., whose disease is not or only slightly progressive, have lower Ang2 levels. The scientists found out that Ang2 concentration in blood serum is a more precise indicator of the progression and stage of the disease than previously used biomarkers.
This close association between melanoma progression and Ang2 level prompted the question of whether the Ang2 growth factor really only stimulates vascularization in the tumor or whether it has additional influence on the properties of the cancer cells themselves. Such an effect had not yet been proposed for any one of the various growth factors which act on the cells of the vascular walls. Melanoma cells were really found to produce both soluble Ang2 and the matching receptor, Tie2, on their own cell membrane. As a result, they are theoretically capable of activating themselves. In order to check this, researchers switched off the Ang2 production in melanoma cells using a genetic trick. Test systems in the culture dish subsequently revealed that the skin cancer cells had lost their ability to migrate. The migration tendency of cancer cells is regarded as important information about their ability to invade other tissue in the body and metastasize.
The tumor appears to seize the signaling system of vascularization and, thus, to strengthen its malignant properties. "Ang2 is a very promising candidate," Hellmut Augustin comments on the results, „both as a biomarker for better monitoring of disease progression and as a target structure for therapy measures." Blocking Ang2 might not only attack the tumor's blood supply, but also reduce its malignant growth.
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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