The basement membrane extracellular matrix contacts epithelial, endothelial, fat and smooth muscle cells. Because this extracellular matrix is so thin, it had been hard to study its composition, structure, and function. An extract of a tumor was found to contain all of the components present in basement and to be very biologically active. This extract, termed Matrigel, Cultrex, or EHS matrix, promotes cell differentiation, and is used to measure the invasive activity of tumor cells. In vivo, it is used for measuring angiogenic inhibitors and stimulators, to improve graft survival, repair damaged tissues, and increase tumor growth.
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