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Lab created model of lymphatic vessels and flow of lymph enables study of disease and treatments

19 January 2022

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Transporting chemicals and waste from our tissues, the lymphatic system signals immune cells to anything suspicious. Each lymph vessel is studded in valves which help to flush liquids around the body along with, sometimes, opportunist cancer cells. With this artificial lymphangion – a stretch of lymph vessel found between valves – researchers hope to find out more. Created in a lab, bioengineers suck a gloopy mixture of cells through a tiny chamber filled with another liquid, using a trick of gravity to keep the buoyant particles under control while a finger-like vessel forms from endothelial cells (highlighted in green, with their nuclei in blue) surrounded by outer layers of muscle (red). The method could be tweaked to prepare different vessels, helping to examine the role of inflammatory chemicals in disorders like lymphedema, as well as ways to block the spread of cancer.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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