In angiogenesis, the process in which blood vessel sprouts grow out from a pre-existing vascular network, the so-called endothelial tip cells play an essential role. Tip cells are the leading cells of the sprouts; they guide following endothelial cells and sense their environment for guidance cues. Because of this essential role, the tip cells are a potential therapeutic target for anti-angiogenic therapies, which need to be developed for diseases such as cancer and major eye diseases. The potential of anti-tip cell therapies is now widely recognised, and the surge in research this has caused has led to improved insights in the function and regulation of tip cells, as well as the development of novel in vitro and in silico models. These new models in particular will help understand essential mechanisms in tip cell biology and may eventually lead to new or improved therapies to prevent blindness or cancer spread.
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Dallinga, M., Boas, S., Klaassen, I., Merks, R., van Noorden, C. J. F., & Schlingemann, R. (2015). Tip Cells in Angiogenesis. eLS, 1–10.