A variant form of a common growth factor, called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) was identified that is responsible for the inflammation and altered retinal vascularisation that occurs in diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (DR). It could become the target for novel therapies that will help to solve, or at least to ease, a pathology which is poorly treatable by common drugs. The announcement was made yesterday by Professor David T. Shima, Group Leader at the University College of London, Institute of Ophthalmology, at the European Meeting on Vascular Biology and Medicine, held in parallel with the Fourth Annual Meeting of EVGN (www.evgn.org), network of excellence on cardiovascular disease.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness and is characterized by the invasive growth and abnormal function of blood vessels within the retina, that obstructs vision and triggers other unwanted effects. With an estimate of 500.000 new cases of severe disease per year in Western Countries it is rightly considered a sanitary priority. Many research groups are focussing on potential targets, but so far no effective pharmacological approaches have been proven to substitute the current (destructive) surgical therapies.
David T. Shima and colleagues focused on a growth factor known to be produced during ischemic conditions, when the eye suffers from lack of oxygen. VEGF, this is its name, counterbalances this condition by promoting blood vessel growth. In diabetic retinopathy VEGF is part of an adaptive response to ischemia, that unfortunately in the long run becomes noxious per se.
“We observed – explained the scientist – that, blood vessels in the ischemic retina do regrow but in a disorganized way: they form clumps instead of a fine mesh-like network. UK scientists asked why and clarified the role of VEGF.
“We decided to further characterize the VEGF activity responsible for the abnormal response and identified one alternative form (or isoform) called VEGF 164, that drives not only ocular neovascularization and vascular permeability, but also an undesirable inflammatory reaction. When this form is genetically or pharmaceutically inhibited the pathological neovascularization is inhibited as well, and blood vessels sprout normally”. Further analysis spotted a specific region within this molecule that is the major cause of inflammation, another characteristic of DR. Again, mutations in this region abolish the undesired pro-inflammatory effects
“Certainly, the inflammatory function of VEGF 164 represents a promising target for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. However there is one problem to solve: VEGF has a second, beneficial role as it protects neurons from ischemic death. Its complete elimination would trigger unwanted consequences and further research is needed to understand this apparent contradiction. Better understanding of the risks and benefits could pave the way for the treatment of this sight-threatening human disease”.
Run jointly with the European Vascular Biology Organization (EVBO) and the British Atherosclerosis Society and articulated over a three day period (September 17-20), the EVGN Meeting will take place in parallel with the 4th European Meeting on Vascular Biology and Medicine (EMVBM), gathering more than 400 scientists from all over Europe with representatives from the rest of the world.
The European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN) is the first Network of excellence on cardiovascular disease funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme "Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health" (Contract Number: LSHMCT- 2003-503254).
The Conference is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Laboratoires SERVIER.
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine