March 08, 2010
Artery Growth Controlled For Heart Problems

If we only knew how to instruct cells to do exactly what we want then most human degeneration with age would become repairable. Some Yale researchers have found a way to block an inhibitor mechanism so that new arteries grow in mice and zebrafish.

"Successfully growing new arteries could provide a biological option for patients facing bypass surgery," said lead author of the study Michael Simons, M.D., chief of the Section of Cardiology at Yale School of Medicine.

In the past, researchers used growth factors—proteins that stimulate the growth of cells—to grow new arteries, but this method was unsuccessful. Simons and his team studied mice and zebrafish to see if they could simulate arterial formation by switching on and off two signaling pathways—ERK1/2 and P13K.

"We found that there is a cross-talk between the two signaling pathways. One half of the signaling pathway inhibits the other. When we inhibit this mechanism, we are able to grow arteries," said Simons. "Instead of using growth factors, we stopped the inhibitor mechanism by using a drug that targets a particular enzyme called P13-kinase inhibitor."

"Because we've located this inhibitory pathway, it opens the possibility of developing a new class of medication to grow new arteries," Simons added. "The next step is to test this finding in a human clinical trial."

Drugs that block this inhibitor pathway could be problematic since they might cause artery growth in many parts of the body. We need techniques that allow localized control of cell growth. It isn't enough to have stem cells. Therapeutic techniques must control cell organization in 3 dimensions to grow the needed structures.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 08 11:02 PM  Biotech Heart Cardiovascular

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