The ancient Greeks believed blood carried a persons 'life spirit'. While not strictly true this does capture the importance of blood in human health. Diseases like cancer thrive by establishing a good blood supply. Drugs targeting the growth of new blood vessels – a process called angiogenesis – are key to treating such diseases. Mice are used to test these drugs but such experiments are lengthy and expensive. Looking for a cheaper, faster but still effective model researchers turned to zebrafish. By labelling zebrafish blood vessels with a fluorescent green tag, researchers imaged living fins (pictured). When fins were cut they regrew within 50 days building new blood vessels (second right to left; original size far right) along the way. Watching angiogenesis unfold in these fish provides a quick and easy way to study the action of drugs that alter it. Promising drugs can then be further examined in mice.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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