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Last step leading to blood cell formation elucidated
Date:4/1/2009

These new insights represent an important contribution to future clinical therapeutic approaches. The study was published in the prestigious science journal Nature and will be a central topic of the international symposium on the molecular mechanisms of hematopoiesis, which will take place in Munich from April 2nd to 4th.

The findings on the molecular mechanisms of blood formation (hematopoiesis) will be presented in Munich at the international symposium "Molecular Mechanisms of Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis" from April 2nd to 4th. A question that has puzzled researchers for decades could now be solved: How are the first blood cells generated in the embryo? In particular, Dr. Timm Schroeder, research group leader at the Institute of Stem Cell Research of Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen and his team found out that a special type of endothelial cells exists that can transform themselves into blood cells. Endothelial cells line the interior surface of blood vessels.

Dr. Timm Schroeder explained: "It is extremely difficult to investigate the blood cell generation process. It occurs only very briefly, hidden from view in the embryo within the mother's uterus."

The scientists first had to create the technical means to continually observe the transformation process of endothelial cells into blood cells on the single-cell level over a longer period of time. Dr. Schroeder and his colleagues developed novel bioimaging techniques with which the behavior of large numbers of individual cells can be recorded and tracked. They combined optimized microscopy, incubation and imaging technology as well as novel software programs to track individual cells in time-lapse videos with sophisticated cell purification and cell culture techniques. Thus, the scientists could observe the behavior of many differentiating mesodermal cells over a period of up to one week.

By carefully analyzing thousands of cells and the molecules expressed by the
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Contact: Sven Winkle
sven.winkler@helmholtz-muenchen.de
0049-893-187-3946
Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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