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
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) 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.