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Blood vessel mapping reveals 4 new 'ZIP codes'
Date:10/24/2011

HOUSTON - A research team led by scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered four new "ZIP codes" in their quest to map the vast blood vessel network of the human body.

The study, published online the week of Oct. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brings science one step closer to the goal of using the vascular system to personalize cancer therapy, as well as fight obesity, heart disease and other disorders. Researchers also found that some addresses are shared in vasculature across the board instead of always being organ-specific.

The study is part of ongoing research to identify specific and unique addresses, or ZIP codes, within the body's vascular system and use them to develop diagnostic, imaging and therapeutic strategies. Husband-and-wife research team Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D., and Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., professors at the David H. Koch Center for Applied Research of Genitourinary Cancers at MD Anderson, pioneered the concept and were senior authors of the paper.

"By identifying vascular ZIP codes, we bring medicine closer to the ultimate goal of targeted therapies," Pasqualini said.

Innovative methods help investigation

This study supports the Arap-Pasqualini lab's ongoing research to show blood vessels are more than a uniform and ubiquitous "pipeline" that serves the circulatory system.

More than a decade ago, the group pioneered a screening technique that employs billions of viral particles, called phage, to discover, validate and use blood vessel diversity. The particles are packaged with small fragments of proteins called peptides that act as ligands. When injected into the body, they bind to specific receptors in the blood vessels and organs.

"This process is like a 'molecular mass mailing' to all addresses in the body," Arap said. "The peptides travel until they find a target and bind to it, then with
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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