Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists unlock key to blood vessel formation


Scientists from the University of Leeds have discovered a gene that plays a vital role in blood vessel formation, research which adds to our knowledge of how early life develops.

The discovery could also lead to greater understanding of how to treat cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Professor David Beech, of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, who led the research, said: "Blood vessel networks are not already pre-constructed but emerge rather like a river system.

Vessels do not develop until the blood is already flowing and they are created in response to the amount of flow. This gene, Piezo1, provides the instructions for sensors that tell the body that blood is flowing correctly and gives the signal to form new vessel structures.

... more about:
»Medicine »arteries »blood »built »endothelial »strain »vessel

"The gene gives instructions to a protein which forms channels that open in response to mechanical strain from blood flow, allowing tiny electrical charges to enter cells and trigger the changes needed for new vessels to be built."

The research team is planning to study the effects of manipulating the gene on cancers, which require a blood supply to grow, as well as in heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, where plaques form in parts of blood vessels with disturbed blood flow.

Professor Beech added: "This work provides fundamental understanding of how complex life begins and opens new possibilities for treatment of health problems such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, where changes in blood flow are common and often unwanted.

"We need to do further research into how this gene can be manipulated to treat these diseases. We are in the early stages of this research, but these findings are promising."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: "Blood flow has a major effect on the health of the arteries it passes through. Arteries are more likely to become diseased in areas where the flow is disturbed, for example.

This is because the endothelial cells lining the arteries are exquisitely sensitive to this flow and their response to changes can lead to disease, where the artery becomes narrowed and can eventually cause a heart attack.

"Until now, very little has been known about the process by which blood flow affects endothelial cells. This exciting discovery, in mice, tells us that a protein in those cells could be critical in detecting and responding to changes in blood flow.

"Through further research, using this knowledge, we hope to see whether a treatment can be developed that targets this process to prevent the development of disease in healthy arteries."


The research was also funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust and will be published in the journal Nature.

The researchers conducted the study using mouse models.

Further information

Professor David Beech is available for interview. Contact Ben Jones in the press office on +44 (0)113 343 8059 or email

A copy of the research paper 'Piezo1 integration of vascular architecture with physiological force', by Li et al, is available from the press office. DOI: 10.1038/nature13701

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.

Ben Jones | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Medicine arteries blood built endothelial strain vessel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How the African clawed frog got an extra pair of genes: Whole genome sequence reveals evolutionary history of Xenopus laevis
27.10.2016 | Hokkaido University

nachricht Mitochondria control stem cell fate
27.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Mitochondria control stem cell fate

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

The gene of autumn colours

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>