New approaches to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension

Targeting the BMP signalling pathway for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (renewal: years 6-10)

Nicholas Morrell (lead researcher)

Cambridge, University of

Start date: 01 July 2013 (Duration 5 years)

BHF Professor Nick Morrell at the University of Cambridge has been awarded a grant to discover if increasing levels of bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2), could be a new way to treat Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Their exciting preliminary experiments suggest that the disease could be reversed using various strategies, such as increasing the production of BMPR2 protein, or preventing the breakdown of BMPR2 using a drug. They will test these treatments in mice with PAH that is similar to the condition in people.

PAH is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs, causing damage to the right side of the heart. People with PAH are often breathless and tired, and in severe cases die of heart failure within a few years.

The cause of PAH is not fully understood, but alterations in a gene which makes BMPR2– is responsible for many cases of the condition. Professor Morrell and his team have found these BMPR2 alterations cause faulty signals to be sent in cells lining the lung blood vessels, so the normal growth and survival of these cells becomes impaired. There is an overgrowth of the smooth muscle cells lining the lung blood vessels, causing them to narrow. Researchers now know what controls the levels of BMPR2 and how low levels make the lung blood vessels behave abnormally.

This research will tell us more about the processes that lead to PAH and could pave the way towards trials of new treatments in people that could prevent or reverse the disease.

Project details

Grant amount £1,283,492
Grant type Programme Grant
Start Date 01 July 2013
Duration 5 years
Reference RG/13/4/30107
Status In progress

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