Growing New Blood Vessels: Medicine’s Next Big Thing?


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Heart disease can be caused by a narrowing of the arteries carrying blood to the heart. Patients with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, have arterial blockages in the legs. But what if the body had the ability to grow new vessels to improve blood flow? It could be medicine’s next big thing.

A recent finding by scientists could pave the way for a cutting-edge therapy for ischemic disease; a condition where blood flow is restricted.

Fangfei Li, MD, PhD, SBP at the Medical Discovery Institute said, “We are trying to develop a new treatment by making new blood vessels in the tissue.”

Imagine: instead of invasive and often complicated surgeries, doctors could use a technique to deliver a special protein to a patient’s body first, encouraging new vessels to sprout. Think of them growing like a tree.

Doctor Li continued, “At first, it grows as a stem, and then it becomes more branches. Then overall the tissues will be surrounded by branches.”

The challenge for researchers has been discovering how to encourage those sprouts to mature and hollow out, allowing blood to flow through without leaking. Vascular biologists Masanobu Komatsu and Fangfei Li say they’ve identified the protein that will allow the change to happen, seen here in 3D.  Blood and oxygen could flow through to damaged areas.

Masanobu Komatsu, PhD, SBP at the Medical Discovery Institute said ,“and if you can supply the fresh blood to the tissue then that definitely will save their life.” (Read Full Interview)

Researchers say they envision the first treatments will target ischemic tissues in the legs and later the heart.  Eventually this process might be used to treat eye diseases like macular degeneration caused by leaky blood vessels.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Jesse Draus, Videographer; Robert Walko, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Ischemic Vascular Disease is when plaque builds up inside blood vessels, resulting in restricted blood flow. When this happens, the condition known as atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body, including the brain, heart, arms or legs. As a result, different diseases may develop based on which arteries are affected. IVD is a term that includes a group of diseases caused by the build-up of plaque. Coronary Heart Disease or CHD is when atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries of the heart. Carotid Artery Disease or CAD occurs if the plaque builds up in the arteries on the sides of the neck. Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD is a disease where plaque builds up in arteries that carry blood to the organs, limbs, or head; usually affecting the arteries in the leg the most.



TREATMENT: There are different prevention methods and treatment options for clogged arteries. Options include things such as lifestyle changes; eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, keeping blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol low. Surgical or interventional procedures may be necessary for treatment and prevent additional plaque buildup. This may include procedures such as; stent placements, bypass surgery, or balloon angioplasty. Medications may be prescribed to control some of the contributing factors to the plaque buildup, including; blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs, and aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs.



NEW RESEARCH: Scientists are working on a new treatment that could restore blood flow to damaged tissues without invasive surgery. They are working on a possible new treatment that would help the body grow new blood vessels and fix leaky ones. Instead of often complicated surgeries, doctors could instead use a technique that would deliver a special protein into the patient’s body that would encourage new blood vessels to sprout, similar to the way new branches sprout and grow from a tree. The challenge has been getting the sprouts to mature and hollow out to allow blood to flow through without leaking. Researchers believe the treatment could one day target ischemic tissues in the legs and near the heart, eventually this process could also be used to treat things like eye diseases caused by leaky blood vessels.

(Source: Masanobu Komatsu, PhD and Fangfei Li, MD, PhD)


Masanobu Komatsu, PhD

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Masanobu Komatsu, PhD

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