Going to 'Wars' against cancer and heart disease

July 8, 2016, Duke-NUS Medical School

In a study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), researchers discovered a new gene that controls blood vessel formation. This work presents a possible new drug target for cancer and heart disease, and was published in the journal, Nature Communications, on 8 July 2016.

Blood vessels form a network throughout the body to deliver the nutrients necessary to keep the tissues and organs alive and healthy. The formation of this network is controlled by a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis inhibition is commonly targeted in cancer treatment development that aims to starve tumours of the nutrients necessary for their survival. In the heart, increasing angiogenesis can help heart pump function.

For the first time, a team led by Professor Stuart Cook at Duke-NUS, uncovered a role for the gene, Wars2, in the process of angiogenesis. Mr Mao Wang, PhD student at Duke-NUS, is co-first author of the study alongside Dr Patrick Sips, Associate Scientist from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Together, they confirmed the importance of Wars2 for angiogenesis in rats and zebrafish.

"Using different genetic techniques, we inhibited Wars2 function in both rats and zebrafish, and the resulting animals showed impairment of within the and in the rest of the body," described Mr Wang.

A microscopic view to show blood vessel formation or angiogenesis at high resolution. Left: Normal blood vessel formation throughout the body during development of a zebrafish embryo. Right: Reduced blood vessel formation, indicating impaired angiogenesis, in a zebrafish embryo deficient in Wars2 where vessels are not able to grow normally. Credit: Wang M et al./ Nature Communications

To confirm the involvement of Wars2 in angiogenesis, the researchers increased the effect of Wars2 and showed that blood was enhanced. Specifically, they were able to determine that Wars2 plays an important role in supplying sufficient endothelial cells, the building blocks of , for angiogenesis.

"Angiogenesis is vital for supporting life and providing nutrients to all parts of the body," said Prof Cook, Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre. "Finding a way to control not only provides a target for the development of anti-cancer therapies, but may also prove useful in similarly starving abnormal elsewhere in the body, like in diabetic eye disease." Prof Cook is also the Director of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Research Programme at Duke-NUS.

Ultimately, Wars2 provides researchers and pharmaceutical companies a fresh new target for developing treatments for diseases characterised by growth that may be more effective and specific or complementary to what is currently available.

Explore further: New target for the fight against cancer as a result of excessive blood vessel formation

More information: Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS12061

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FTCause
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2016
Johnson, you are correct. Doctors push medications before alternatives because it's easier and that's what they know. A friend of mine had type 2 diabetes and started consuming moringa oleifera, which is a natural plant that balances your bodies nutrients uptake, and he too was able to get off his meds. His doctor did not believe it was the natural cure that did it until he did his own research. He simply didn't know there was another option. Now his doctor is recommending moringa to his patients.

I am predisposed for plaque build up in my arteries. I was healthy, active and ate well but still had a heart attack in 2014 at 46. Called my friend to find out about moringa and I started drinking it mixed with water everyday. I changed my diet some (I still eat ice cream weekly) and my blood numbers are good every visit. I have more energy too. My doctor still doesn't believe it's the moringa, but that's because he hasn't done his own research. It's hard to change a closed mind.

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