The first step in the formation of new blood vessels - vessel cells growing on a tiny bead
Seen down a high-powered microscope, these red shapes are endothelial cells – normally found making up the lining of blood vessels – growing on a tiny bead. This enthusiastic ‘sprouting’ is the first step in the formation of new blood vessels, which are essential for a foetus growing in the womb or during wound healing, but highly dangerous if they start to feed a growing tumour. By taking such a detailed look at the very earliest stages of blood vessel growth in a three-dimensional system, researchers are hoping to understand more about how the environment around endothelial cells encourages them to sprout. In the future, this knowledge could point towards new ways to repair or reconnect damaged blood vessels, such as after a heart attack. It could also lead to novel cancer treatments designed to halt the spread of unwanted blood vessels into tumours, cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.