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The importance of studying angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, is underscored by its involvement in both normal physiology, such as embryonic growth and wound healing, and pathologies, such as diabetes and cancer. Treatments targeting the molecular drive of angiogenesis have been developed, but many of the molecular mechanisms that mediate vascularization, as well as how these mechanisms can be targeted in therapy, remain poorly understood. The limited capacity to quantify angiogenesis properly curtails our molecular understanding and development of new drugs and therapies. Although there are a number of assays for angiogenesis, many of them strip away its important components and/or limit control of the variables that direct this highly cooperative and complex process. Here we review assays commonly used in endothelial cell biology and describe the progress toward development of a physiologically realistic platform that will enable a better understanding of the molecular and physical mechanisms that govern angiogenesis.
© 2014 by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.