A little over a year ago, the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), the D. Collen Research Foundation, and the Catholic University of Leuven invested in the acquisition of a new technology provided by the zebra fish. This small aquarium fish can be used to aid the study of the function of human genes. That this investment is reaping returns is evident from the study that VIB researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven are publishing today in the renowned journal Nature. They have shown for the first time that new blood vessels do not grow in random directions, but that they are guided by specific signal molecules. This is a major step in the development of new targeted forms of therapeutic angiogenesis.
A complex network
Blood vessels transport blood throughout our body. They form a kind of network to bring the necessary nutritional and building materials to organs and tissues and to carry off waste products. So, it is difficult to overstate the importance of blood vessels to a well-functioning body. Disorders in which the blood supply is impaired are quite serious: deficient blood supply to the heart, for example, leads to heart attack. Medical science hopes to be able to treat such diseases in the future by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels, a form of therapy called therapeutic angiogenesis.
Ann Van Gysel | EurekAlert!
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Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
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