BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 00:25 GMT
Blood vessel clue offers bypass hope
Blood vessels
Blood vessels failing to develop properly
Patients could 'grow their own arteries', eliminating the need for bypass surgery, thanks to research looking at how blood vessels form.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham are focussing on a key protein which could be responsible for the formation of networks of vessels.

Gene therapy based on the research could provide an alternative for people needing treatments such as coronary artery bypass grafts.

Around 28,000 currently need such treatments each year.


This could alleviate the need for surgery

Professor Asif Ahmed
The protein VEGF is important for the formation of blood vessels. It acts as a 'key', and it is important that 'locks', called receptors, are also present in cells.

The Birmingham team, who have a 200,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation for their work, have concentrated on a particular receptor for the protein called VEGF R-1.

It had been thought the receptor did not do anything to help the formation of blood vessels.

But the Birmingham team proved that when it is activated, it leads to the release of nitric oxide molecules which promote blood vessel networks to form

Cancer hope

Laboratory experiments using endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, were carried out.

Blood vessels
Blood vessels forming with the key protein
They showed that when VEGF R1 is blocked from working as it should, blood vessels do not form.

Professor Asif Ahmed told BBC News Online "This could alleviate the need for surgery. You could grow a whole artery. We have already done it in a Petri dish."

"We have agents that will activate VEGF R-1. I don't think using that as a treatment is that far away."

He said the findings could be important in cancer as well as heart disease treatment.

"But in cancer treatment, you don't. It could allow tumour cells to be taken from one site to another.

"If you could block that, you could block tumour growth."

Professor Sir Charles George, medical director at the BHF, said: "Although there have been major advances in surgical techniques to replace narrowed arteries, it is important that we continue to look for alternatives to surgery.

"We look forward to the results of this research that in the long term could improve the quality of life for many heart patients."

See also:

08 Aug 02 | Health
23 Jul 02 | Health
23 May 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes