Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Bloody Difficult Problem

Molecule identified that regulates new blood vessel growth in tumours

24 August 2019

Bloody Difficult Problem

All the cells in our body need a blood supply to provide vital oxygen and nutrients, and cancer cells are no exception. It’s been known for many years that tumours feed their needs by sending out chemical signals that encourage the growth of new blood vessels like this one, stained with fluorescent dyes and viewed in cross-section down a microscope. But what’s been more difficult is understanding how these signals work and how they can be blocked, in order to cut off the blood supply to cancer or stop it from growing in the first place. Scientists have now discovered that bowel tumours from humans and mice can grow themselves some new plumbing by switching off a molecule called p38 in neighbouring stem cells, transforming them into new blood vessels. Figuring out what’s going on as these stem cells switch roles is an important new piece of the plumbing puzzle.

Written by Kat Arney

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