Growing new blood vessels in mice
Heart attacks and strokes could be prevented using a new method of blood vessel regeneration, according to research on mice.
Blocked blood vessels can starve the brain and heart of vital oxygen and nutrients. Scientists treated the condition in mice by growing new blood vessels.
Researchers grew new supporting cells in the blood vessel walls using a natural growth factor, called FGF9. When aged mice with blood vessel constriction were given FGF9, new blood vessels grew and blood flow improved in the mice. The new blood vessels also developed smooth muscle cells that enabled them to constrict and relax.
Previous attempts at treating the condition focussed on growing blood vessel lining cells. But the blood vessels produced were short lived and did not function well. Blood vessels grown from supporting cells, however, lasted for over a year.
The finding provides a potential new treatment for vascular disease in humans.