New research gives hope of better treatments for thousands living with deadly condition

11 April 2018        

Category: Research

Scientists we fund at the University of Edinburgh have found a new target for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The research could lead to treatments for this life changing condition with no cure.

TPC2 ion channel seen using confocal microcsopy

PAH is a serious condition that causes high blood pressure in the blood vessels between the heart and the lungs. It leaves sufferers weak and short of breath and can lead to heart failure. There is no cure and treatments are limited to trying to treat the symptoms. Current drugs for PAH can themselves have drastic side effects like nausea, limb-pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Around 6,500 people in the UK have PAH.

Professor Mark Evans and his team have found a new target that could lead to better treatments for PAH. The research is available online in Science Signalling. By studying muscle cells from pulmonary arteries in mice, and clones of human cells, the team have been able to show that they can use the existing treatments for PAH to regulate  a new calcium channel, called TPC2. How these drugs work against the condition has been hotly debated as they were initially designed for other targets. Using them as a template to develop new drugs could speed up the road to new specific treatments for PAH.

Professor Mark Evans who led the study said: “Our research suggests that drugs already used to treat PAH, like nifedipine and rapamycin, could be made much, much better by exploiting our discovery that they interact with the TPC2 channel.”

Dr Abigail Woodfin, our Senior Research Advisor at the BHF, said: “Although this research is in early stages, it is always encouraging to see new targets emerge that could help develop treatments for conditions that blight the lives of thousands of people and their families"

Find our more about our research into PAH