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

to the death of the surrounding muscular tissue. This was a very surprising result, since the muscle received too little oxygen to survive under normal circumstances. In the mice lacking the PHD1 oxygen meter, the tissue apparently reprogrammed itself by means of a metabolic shift, so that the muscle needed less oxygen in order to continue to function. Furthermore, less oxygen in the muscle meant fewer toxic oxygen particles and thus less damage. So, the muscle could use the little oxygen that was available in a better and safer manner. These alterations enabled the muscle to stay perfectly healthy in these normally life-threatening conditions. In addition, the researchers also demonstrated that treating healthy mice even briefly with a PHD1-blocker could protect the muscles against oxygen deficiency - which opens a path to new therapies.

New therapeutic possibilities?

These findings have significant implications for several medical applications. Scientists can now begin to investigate whether PHD1-blockers can prevent the damage caused by blockage of a blood vessel through thrombosis or after a heart attack (in which the cardiac muscle experiences a shortage of oxygen). New treatment alternatives may also be possible for strokes, and surgeons may also be able to reduce the oxygen supply to organs for a longer period of time during many types of operations.

The absence of PHD1 might also explain the mysterious adaptations of hibernating animals, with important implications for the preservation of organs for transplant. Such tissues often have to contend with prolonged oxygen deficiency, which destroys their viability for transplantation. If these organs could be kept in a hibernation condition, perhaps more lives could be saved...


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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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