Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is the zebra fish leading us to new therapies?

28.10.2004


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.


Despite ever-growing knowledge about blood vessel formation (angiogenesis), scientists still know little about how the new blood vessels choose their path to reach a particular organ or tissue. Discovering these mechanisms would greatly aid development of new strategies for therapeutic angiogenesis. Not only must the growth of new blood vessels be stimulated, but the blood vessels must also be oriented specifically within an organized and coordinated network.

Daring hypothesis

Our nerve-tissue is also constructed as a very well-organized and coordinated network. It is known that, during their growth, nerves orient themselves very specifically toward a target organ or tissue. Then, by means of attraction and repulsion signals, so-called signal molecules guide the nerve cells to their target. In their search for the mechanisms behind the targeted growth of blood vessels, Monica Autiero and her co-researchers under the direction of Peter Carmeliet (VIB, Catholic University of Leuven) asked themselves whether blood vessels might perhaps use the same signals as nerve cells.

To answer this question, the researchers called on the small, translucid zebra fish. The great advantages of using zebra fish instead of mice are that zebra fish grow and multiply very rapidly and - because you can see through them - scientists can study the development of their blood vessels under the microscope.

Blood vessel guides

In collaboration with American and French scientists, the Flemish research team corroborated the bold hypothesis. Focusing their research on UNC5B, a signal molecule receptor for nerve cells, the researchers demonstrated that zebra fish that are unable to produce UNC5B construct a blood vessel network with uncontrolled branches and divergent patterns. This indicates that the receptor and the signal molecule are of crucial importance in guiding new blood vessels.

Scientists can now predict with great certainty that nerves and blood vessels use the same ’guides’ along their routes to their targets. A finding that is very important for the development of new, targeted forms of therapeutic angiogenesis.

Ann Van Gysel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

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.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>