News / Health

Scientists Discover How to Grow New Blood Vessels

Jessica Berman
Scientists have discovered how heart disease patients with dangerously blocked arteries are able to grow new blood vessels to by-pass the blockage, and keep oxygen-rich blood flowing through their bodies. The discovery is raising the possibility of new treatments for cardiac patients.  

In people with heart disease, it is not uncommon for new blood vessels to grow around blocked arteries in order to keep essential, oxygenated blood coursing through the body. But those emergency blood vessels don’t grow in everyone with coronary artery disease.

Researchers have been working for more than a decade trying to coax new blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis, using human growth factors, specific enzymes and hormones that promote cellular growth.

But Michael Simons, a cell biologist and head of cardiovascular research at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, says scientists found that growth factors only went so far in stimulating new blood vessel growth.

“They do that in normal animals and in normal people.  But they did not work in people with advanced illnesses, and we never understood why," said Simons.

Simons and colleagues took a step back, looking at factors that cause blood vessels to form during fetal development, to try to determine why that process often doesn't occur in people with advanced heart disease.
 
When organs are damaged because of a lack of blood flow, Simons explains, they release a repair molecule called VEGFR.  Another molecule called NRP1 binds to that protein, and transports it, along with a second repair protein called VEGFR2, to the inside of blood vessels, stimulating the healing process.

But in experiments with mice, researchers discovered repair doesn't take place, or is poorly executed, in rodents bred to have damaged NRP1. Simons says angiogenesis is hampered because the molecules can't enter damaged blood vessels.

Simons believes heart patients whose bodies do not repair and grow new arteries to bypass damaged blood vessels also have impaired NRP1.  

“So, now that we understand how this works, you can now begin designing therapies that will specifically stimulate this pathway where you need it if you want to grow arteries.  On the other hand, if your goal is to inhibit the growth of blood vessels, you could do this of course in reverse," he said.

Reversing blood vessel formation would choke off and destroy cancerous tumors, which require an arterial blood supply to grow and spread.

An article by Yale University’s Michael Simons and colleagues on blood vessel formation is published in the journal Developmental Cell.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More