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Scientists identify molecule that can increase blood flow in vascular disease
Date:3/10/2011

was expressed during development of blood vessels, shut off during adulthood and then re-expressed in angiosarcoma, a cancer of endothelial cells.

Deb wanted to see what would happen if he put the Wnt1 protein on human endothelial progenitor cells. He found that treating these special cells with Wnt1 not only greatly increased their function but also their number. Next, Deb and his colleagues investigated what effect the protein would have on a mouse model of peripheral artery disease, an illness in humans caused by decreased blood flow to the extremities. They found that treating these animals with a single injection of the Wnt1 protein resulted in almost three fold increase in blood flow in the affected areas.

"We found that Wnt1 is a novel proangiogenic molecule, something that has never been shown before," said Deb. "It gives us hope that injecting the Wnt1 protein -- or molecules that stimulate the Wnt1 signaling pathway -- into ischemic tissues in humans could improve blood flow and assert a therapeutic effect."

Approximately 1 in 4 deaths in adults in the US are secondary to heart disease and as many as 15 percent of Americans age 65 and older have peripheral artery disease. In the future, Deb plans to use his findings to identify such small molecules or drug candidates that could reverse the endothelial progenitor cell dysfunction observed in so many patients with vascular disease.


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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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