Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Peepers' Creepers

Protein identified that's vital for blood vessel growth in the eye's retina

15 December 2019

Peepers' Creepers

In the developing eye, a web of tiny blood capillaries climbs up the dome-like retina, bringing a supply of nourishing oxygen and nutrients. At least, it should happen this way – in a condition called familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEV) the growth of new vessels (known as angiogenesis) is hampered by faulty proteins. Zooming in on these developing mouse retinas, we see their tiny vine-like vessels highlighted in blue (each 1000 times smaller than a creeping vine). Those on the right are bulkier with less 'sprouting' than the healthy branches on the left. The faulty branches lack a working version of a protein called integrin-linked kinase (Ilk), involved in helping cells move and grow in their surroundings. The next job may be to look for ways to restore the effects of Ilk in human sufferers of vascular disorders.

Written by John Ankers

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