Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Scientists develop technology to study blood vessel formation

PBR Staff Writer Published 01 February 2018

A team of researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, CNRS and INSERM has developed a new organ-on-a-chip technology to study blood vessel formation and the drugs targeting this mechanism.

The technology will help in repairing a human blood vessel, as well as shows the development of new capillaries from a single vessel in response to proper biochemical signaling cues.

New organ-on-a-chip technology will also be used to develop drugs targeting this growth to treat cancer and blood-vessel-related diseases.

The IIS lecturer Yukiko Matsunaga has been working in the SMMIL-E project, which is a joint French-Japanese project against cancer. The project is supported by the CNRS, COL, Universite de Lille, the University of Tokyo.

They are using tissue engineering and organ-on-a-chip technology to study different biological phenomena, including angiogenesis.

Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) are the primary proteins that result in angiogenesis. They indicate the parental vessel to start sprouting and show direction to the new capillaries for expansion.

Anti-cancer drugs such as sorafenib and sunitinib show better results due to their anti-angiogenic effects

Designed by Joris Pauty, the new system will fabricate a single human blood into a collagen gel scaffold on a chip.

The formation of sprouts on the vessel will be stimulated through adding VEGF, helping to initiate new blood vessels.

Based on results of various experiments, INSERM research director Fabrice Soncin concludes that VEGF activated NOTCH signaling through DLL4 is similar to the process in the human body.

Adding either sorafenib or sunitinib restricted the sprouting, while sorafenib made the vessels highly permeable. Both drugs avoided new vessel growth through different effects.

Matsunaga said: "The biochemistry of sprouting angiogenesis is well understood. VEGF leads endothelial cells to express DLL4, which activates NOTCH signaling. What is lacking is a good system to study drugs that are effective on angiogenesis.”