A drug that has been on the market for decades to treat leukemia and skin disorders such as acne and psoriasis may be a possible therapy for vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and hypertension, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Previously, researchers discovered that retinoids commonly used natural or man-made drugs related to vitamin A blunted experimental vascular disease by spurring into action a very particular segment of a gene known for its ability to curb cancer cell growth.
The gene, usually shut off or silenced in cancer cells, enabling tumors to form, could be an attractive treatment target not only for vascular diseases, which involve the detrimental growth, spread and accumulation of cells in blood vessels, but for a wide range of cancers, which involve unchecked cell growth, as well.
In the journal PLoS One, a team of researchers led by Joseph M. Miano, Ph.D., associate director of the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center, found that a specific section of the complex AKAP12 gene, called AKAP12 beta, is extremely responsive to treatment with retinoids, and that ramping up its activity reduces vascular cell growth.
"Several studies have shown that when this gene is turned on, it decreases the growth of cancer cells, but this is the first time anyone's shown its ability to inhibit growth in non-cancer cells," said Miano, the study's lead author. "In addition to the vascular angle, we hope this work inspires researchers in different disciplines to see if our findings apply in other disease contexts."
A vascular biologist, Miano became interested in retinoids after people close to him battled cancer. When he learned that retinoids, which have several actions, including regulating cell growth, were a treatment option for some cancer patients, he wondered if they might have any use in treating diseases of blood vessels. Like cancer,
|Contact: Emily Boynton|
University of Rochester Medical Center