Local researchers announce they’ve found a switch that effectively turns on certain blood vessels, a discovery that could provide the brake or the gas pedal for cell growth.
The discovery, announced Monday in a news release from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, could benefit as many as 500 million people worldwide according to cancer researchers.
The uncontrolled growth of blood vessels is a major problem in a broad range of diseases and conditions including the growth of tumors.
To find the switch that changes normal blood vessels into a reproductive or diseased state could hold the key to new therapies.
Researchers discovered how an “angiogenic switch” turns on and developed a strategy to turn it back off.
The findings are published by David A. Cheresh, PhD, professor of pathology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and associate director for translational research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, and colleagues at the cancer center and at the University of Michigan.
“In tumor vessels or in hemangiomas, this particular microRNA is abundant and capable of maintaining extensive vascular growth,” Cheresh is quoted in a university news release. “The effect is similar to a car that’s speeding out of control because its gas pedal is stuck to the floor and its brakes aren’t working.”
The findings have been published in the online edition of Nature Medicine.