Just when it seems that every nook and cranny of the human body has been targeted, scientific advances make it possible to tackle a heretofore unapproachable field. The basal lamina, or basement membrane, is a protein matrix composed of type IV collagen and laminin that forms a thin, sheet-like extracellular layer throughout the body. The basal lamina has been a difficult target to study because of the insoluble nature and structural complexity of its protein components

Yet the basal lamina plays an important role in diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes. To date, six type IV collagen chains and 10 laminin chains have been identified, many having tissue and functional specificity.