PITTSBURGHEver since the Nobel Prize for nerve growth factor was awarded more than 30 years ago, researchers have been searching for ways to use growth factor clinically.
University of Pittsburgh Professor Yadong Wang has developed a minimally invasive method of delivering growth factor to regrow blood vessels. His research, which could be used to treat heart disease, the most common cause of death in the Western world, is published this week in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wang is a professor in the Department of Bioengineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering and the Department of Surgery in the University's School of Medicine. He is also affiliated with the Pitt-UPMC McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine (MIRM). His coauthors are Johnny Huard, professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the School of Medicine's Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Molecular Genetics, and Pathology, as well as MIRM; graduate student Hunghao Chu and postdoctoral fellow Jin Gao in the Departments of Bioengineering and Surgery; and Chien-Wen Chen, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering and surgery.
When the researchers injected their growth factor compound under the skin of mice, they saw something amazing: New blood vessels grew, and large ones, not just tiny capillaries. "We had structures that resembled arteriolessmall arteries that lead to a network of capillaries," says Wang.
Moreover, the structures stuck around. At least a month later, after only one injection of the growth factor complex, the new blood vessels were still there.
POWERFUL IN SMALL DOSES
In our bodies, growth factors control many different functions, including cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. There are even growth factors that inhibit growth of certain cell types or cause cell suicide. "They are very potent molecules," says Wang.
Being so powerfu
|Contact: Karen Hoffmann|
University of Pittsburgh