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Medical breakthrough for organ transplants and cardiovascular diseases by Flemish researchers
Date:1/6/2008

Leuven, Belgium - When a blood vessel clogs up, a localized deficiency of oxygen results, causing the surrounding tissue to die. However, working with mice, VIB scientists connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have been able to prevent muscular tissue with severe hypoxia from dying. The muscles seem to adapt to the lack of oxygen - a metabolic tour de force that animals also use when hibernating, but that has remained a mystery until now. For the medical world, this discovery signifies an important step forward in limiting damage after a heart attack, for example, or for better preservation of organs awaiting transplants.

No life without oxygen - but oxygen can also be harmful

Oxygen is necessary to life. Humans and animals use oxygen to convert fats and sugars into the energy that keeps all life processes running and maintains the bodys temperature. At the same time, oxygen can also be harmful when it is converted into toxic oxygen particles that cause serious damage to tissues and organs.

What about a little less?

Some animals can survive in places with little oxygen. Birds at high altitudes, for example, or animals that live underground or that can dive under water for a long time. Hibernating animals turn their bodily processes down low and live with a reduced amount of oxygen.

We can detect changes in the amount of oxygen with certain sensors. These oxygen meters are essential in adapting the bodys metabolism during the changeover from an oxygen-rich to an oxygen-deficient environment.

Oxygen meter PHD1 plays crucial role

Julin Aragons, Martin Schneider, Katie Van Geyte and Peter Fraisl - under the direction of Peter Carmeliet - have studied the role of the PHD1 oxygen meter. To do this, they used knock-out mice that were unable to produce PHD1. They found that blocking an artery in these mice - thus obstructing the oxygen supply to the muscle - did not lead
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Contact: Joke Comijn
joke.comijn@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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