Zebrafish imaging and cancer
One Weizmann Institute scientist is making critical advances in studying the lymphatic system, a mechanism involved in the metastatic spread of cancer cells, by conducting live imaging experiments in zebrafish embryos.
Prof. Karina Yaniv, along with her team members in the Department of Biological Regulation, have long focused on uncovering the origins of lymphatic vessels during embryonic development.
After discovering that the body has a special store of stem cells that give rise to these vessels, the scientists began growing lymphatic cells in culture for the first time. The new research not only solved a century-old disagreement about the origin of the lymphatic system, but also provided therapeutic avenues for the treatment of lymph-related pathologies.
The team then moved on to exploring what exactly the lymphatic cells do, and how they do it. They performed live imaging experiments in zebrafish embryos, tracing the differentiation and migration of previously identified stem cells. The scientists were able to clarify key differences between those stem cells that generate adult lymph cells and others that give rise to the vasculature of the digestive system. These findings, according to Yaniv, may shed light on the mystery of where cancerous blood and lymphatic cells originate. With suspicions that adult stem cells could be the source, the scientists are now tracking the stem cell population of adult zebrafish.