Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A Watchful Welcome
16 November 2012

A Watchful Welcome

Our bodies have bustling transport networks, thriving day and night with a traffic of blood, water and nutrients. Unfortunately, cancer cells sometimes use these natural highways to hitchhike their way between vulnerable tissues. The success of their journey, known as metastasis, depends on how well they adjust to living in a new place. This section of a mouse kidney (highlighted in red) has been transplanted with cells from the pancreas (highlighted in green). The image was taken through a glass ‘window’ stuck to the skin – offering a peek at the welcome these migrant cells received. The friendly kidney cells spread their blood vessels out towards their new neighbours, enabling them to grow (the assembly of vessels magnified on the right is 400 times smaller than an outstretched hand). Watching how cancer takes advantage of the hospitality of human tissues may influence new therapies designed to send travelling cancers packing.

Written by John Ankers

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