Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tadpole soon to help in the fight against cancer and lymphedema


Lymph circulates in our bodies through a complex network of lymphatic vessels, of which little is known. This network is, however, of major importance for the support of the immune system and the fluid in our body. Researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected with the Catholic University of Leuven, are the first to indicate that this network can be studied with the help of tadpoles. This accelerates research of the lymphatic vessel network. With tadpoles one can now very quickly identify new genes that play a part in the development and functioning of the lymphatic vessel network. This is a first step in the search for solutions for illnesses related to the lymphatic vessel network, such as cancer and lymphedema.

Lymph: a very important colorless fluid

Fluid and proteins leak out of the blood vessels during blood circulation in the body. A network of lymphatic vessels catches this extravasated colorless fluid, lymph, and transports it back to the blood vessel network. The lymphatic vessel network is of major importance. It is essential for regulating fluid in the body and for the support of the immune system that protects us from pathogenic organisms. Faults in the making or functioning of this network cause many disorders, such as inflammatory and infectious diseases and lymphedema (a swelling caused by water retention). On the other hand, a well-functioning lymphatic vessel network can simplify the spread of cancer cells. A thorough understanding of this network is thus essential for seeking a solution for these diseases.

The search for a suitable model system

As far back as in 1627 Gasparo Asellius discovered the lymphatic vessels as ‘milky veins’. Yet the lymphatic network has not been studied much until now and is therefore as good as unknown, quite amazing seeing its importance for our health. One of the reasons for this lack of study is the fact that there was not a good model system until now. Lymphatic vessels can be studied in mice but this takes time and is extremely complex. Moreover, a study of mice only enables the examination of gene per gene, which complicates revealing the combined action between various genetic factors. For efficient research smaller model organisms are used, such as the zebrafish, which is popular in the study of the blood vessel system. But the zebrafish also offers little comfort, as it does not have any lymphatic vessels.

In the early 20th century studies suggested that tadpoles do have lymphatic vessels. This urged Peter Carmeliet and his research group to examine whether tadpoles can form a suitable model system for the study of the lymphatic vessel network. Tadpoles can easily be genetically modified, which is why they are an ideal model system in which it is relatively easy to identify genes that are important in the development of complex biological structures like lymphatic vessels.

Unraveling the lymphatic vessel system through tadpoles

With their research, the research group op Peter Carmeliet indicated that tadpoles are extremely suitable for the study of lymphatic vessels. To do this they used Prox1, a protein that is essential for the formation of lymphatic vessels. With the help of coloration techniques they visualized the areas in tadpoles where Prox1 is made: the lymphatic vessels. With the same coloration techniques the researchers indicated that the development of lymphatic vessels in tadpoles is comparable to mice and humans. A second part of their research was altering tadpoles in such a way that they make much less Prox1 than normal tadpoles. This resulted in a badly developed lymphatic vessel system, because of which the tadpoles showed signs of lymphedema. It did not have any effect on the blood vessel system.

With these results the VIB researchers are the first to prove that tadpoles are perfect model organisms for the study of lymphatic vessels. In the future tadpoles can be used to identify genes that are important for the development of this complex network. This paves the way for the search for solutions for illnesses caused by faults in the lymphatic vessel network.

Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>