QUB researchers discover protein that improves blood vessel repair

  • New researcher at Queen's University Belfast has uncovered a link between levels of a certain protein and processes that can repair damaged blood vessels.

    Heart disease, stroke, and complications from conditions such as diabetes are the top killers in the UK, and researchers at Queen's University Belfas have been working on ground-breaking research to find new ways to repair the damage caused by these conditions.

    They've now discovered a link between a protein known as NOX4 and a type of blood cell that increases the formation of new blood vessels.

    Researchers have been looking for ways to increase the growth of new blood vessels in order to treat a variety of vascular and cardiac disorders. Conditions that result in decreased blood delivery in organs due to heart attack, diabetes, and some types of stroke, could be treated by prompting the body to produce new blood vessels to re-establish a healthy blood supply.

    The research funded by British Heart Foundation NI has now been published in the journal Cardiovascular Research. It finds that increasing levels of a protein known as NOX4 in a specific type of blood cell can increase the formation of new blood vessels, a process discovered using cells obtained from donated umbilical cords.

    Artificially increasing the levels of MOX4 led to significantly increased numbers of blood vessels in tissues with poor blood flow.

    Dr Karla O’Neill commented on the results: "Blood vessels are a critical component of the circulatory system supplying blood containing oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the heart and brain. Growing and repairing these vessels is a major goal in treating heart and circulatory diseases."

    "This study has provided evidence that increasing levels of the important NOX4 protein in blood vessel cells can improve the efficiency of blood vessel formation by increasing important cellular processes. This finding could pave the way for new discoveries in regenerative medicine and allow scientists in the future to grow new functional blood vessels and repair those that are damaged in many forms of heart and circulatory diseases."

    Source: Queen's University Belfast

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