In a whole new approach to asthma research, scientists at Yale have discovered that a molecule called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) likely plays an important role in the development of the disease and raises the possibility of new asthma drugs that block VEGF receptors and signaling pathways.
VEGF is normally associated with the growth of new blood vessels in the lung and other organs. Yale researchers found, however, that in addition to this function, VEGF can also induce asthma-like abnormalities in the airway. When VEGF is expressed in the lungs of genetically engineered "transgenic" mice, asthma-like alterations develop, according to a report in the journal Nature Medicine.
"In humans with asthma, there is an increased level of VEGF, so we mimicked this condition in mice by over expressing VEGF in their lungs," said principal investigator Jack A. Elias, M.D., section chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Yale School of Medicine. "To our surprise, in addition to growing new blood vessels, many other features of asthma were also seen in these mice. We saw mucous formation, airway fibrosis and asthma-like pulmonary function abnormalities. We also found that if you block VEGF, you block the asthma-like manifestations in other mouse asthma models."
Karen N. Peart | EurekAlert!
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