Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Gateway Manoeuvre

Cancer cells take over neighbouring blood vessel cells, forming a 'mosaic' to enter the circulation

21 September 2020

Gateway Manoeuvre

Cancer spreads by taking over blood vessels, shows research using a novel 3D model of a miniature blood vessel engineered in the laboratory. Breast cancer cells grown next to the vessel reached out and integrated into its wall, creating a mosaic of cancer and blood vessel cells. These mosaics are thought to act as gateways, allowing cancer cells to pass easily into the blood stream and travel to distant sites. Mosaic formation happened quickly, within a matter of hours in the laboratory simulation. Similar mosaics were found in tissue taken from breast tumours in humans and mice. This image shows tumour cells (red) surrounded by blood vessels (green). The new model allows scientists to quantify how tumours and vessels interact in real-time, under conditions that are similar to a patient’s body. It could be adapted to study other cancer types and to learn how to control cancer spread.

Written by Deborah Oakley

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