Investigating a potential new target to treat aortic valve stenosis
Inhibiting angiogenesis in aortic valves via S1P receptors: a new therapeutic target
Graeme Nixon (lead researcher)
Aberdeen, University of
Start date: (Duration 3 years)
To ensure the maximum volume of blood is pumped around the body, blood must flow in one direction. This one-way flow is controlled by heart valves, which have to be strong and flexible to do their job. As we age, the valve that stops the backflow of blood from the main artery of the body, the aortic valve, can start to deteriorate and become stiff – which is a condition called aortic valve stenosis. Currently, surgery is the only treatment.
Research suggests that, as the valve stiffens, blood vessels grow into the valve tissue. This new blood supply brings with it white blood cells that cause inflammation, ultimately leading to more stiffness. These researchers want to find a way to stop the growth of new blood vessels in valve tissue, and slow or stop the progression of aortic valve stenosis. Their early experiments suggest that blocking a specific protein on valve cells, called the sphingosine 1 phosphate (S1P) receptor, might stop new blood vessel growth and invasion of white blood cells.
Now they are studying the effects of blocking the S1P receptor on human aortic valves in the lab. The valves will be donated by patients undergoing valve replacement surgery. If the findings are positive, these blockers could potentially be used to treat aortic valve stenosis in the early stages, delaying the need for surgery.
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