Experts unlock key to blood vessel repair

June 10, 2014

Scientists from the University of Leeds have found a way to restore the function of damaged blood vessel repairing cells, in a potentially important step for the future treatment of heart disease.

The research, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), could also pave the way for new targets for drug development in the fight against heart disease.

The findings have also identified a potential reason why South Asian men in the UK experience an increased risk of .

Led by Dr Richard Cubbon in the School of Medicine, the research team studied which can be grown in test tubes from routine blood samples (called outgrowth endothelial cells, or OEC), that can repair damaged , or even form new ones.

Using a variety of experimental models which mimicked cardiovascular diseases, the researchers showed that cells grown from apparently healthy young South Asian men were effectively unable to repair damaged blood vessels or form new blood vessels in damaged tissues, compared to a matched control group of white European men.

The team then identified a protein, called Akt, known to be important in , which was much less active in the South Asian men's cells. By adding active Akt back into their OEC using specially-designed viruses, it was possible to completely restore the ability of these cells to repair vessels.

Dr Cubbon said: "Our work provides a proof of principle that it is possible to restore the blood vessel healing properties of cells, which might be suitable for use as a treatment.

"By understanding why Akt is less active in these cells, we may gain a better understanding of why South Asian men are prone to cardiovascular disease, and possibly find new targets for ."

Dr Shannon Amoils, Senior Researcher Advisor at the BHF, which helped to fund the study, said: "We already know that people of South Asian ethnicity are at a higher risk of . In their latest study Dr Cubbon and his colleagues have found one possible reason for this increased risk. The study showed that cells involved in the repair of blood vessels may not work as well in some South Asian people because of low levels of proteins involved in the healing process.

"This research gives hope that in the future it may be possible to enhance blood vessel repair by targeting these proteins. Knowing how to improve blood supply could one day help to mend hearts damaged after a heart attack – the focus of our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal."

The research has been published in the journal Stem Cells.

Explore further: Adult stem cells help build human blood vessels in engineered tissues

Related Stories

Adult stem cells help build human blood vessels in engineered tissues

October 14, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have identified a protein expressed by human bone marrow stem cells that guides and stimulates the formation of blood vessels.

Protective proteins reduce damage to blood vessels

May 21, 2014
Researchers have uncovered how proteins found in our blood can reduce damage caused to blood vessels as we age, and in conditions such as atherosclerosis and arthritis.

New patient-friendly way to make stem cells for fight against heart disease

November 29, 2012
funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust – have today published a patient-friendly and efficient way to make stem cells out of blood, increasing the hope that scientists ...

Blood vessel research offers insights into new treatments for eye diseases

May 27, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Leukaemia drugs could help to improve treatments for blindness caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye, finds new UCL research. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, raises ...

Migrating stem cells possible new focus for stroke treatment

May 27, 2014
Two years ago, a new type of stem cell was discovered in the brain that has the capacity to form new cells. The same research group at Lund University in Sweden has now revealed that these stem cells, which are located in ...

Researchers discover new blood vessel-generating cell with therapeutic potential

October 16, 2012
Researchers at the University of Helsinki believe they have discovered stem cells that play a decisive role in the growth of new blood vessels. If researchers learn to isolate and efficiently produce these stem cells found ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.