About our vascular research
Blood vessels play a key role in our vascular research and in keeping us healthy. But sometimes the growth of new blood vessels can exacerbate diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
We each have within us some 80,000 km of pipelines that carry the essential supplies needed by cells to all parts of our body. The endothelium that lines this network of blood vessels is essentially a hidden organ in the body weighing about a kilogram.
But the workings of this internal transport infrastructure are largely unknown. You prick your finger on a rose thorn—within the hour the wound is inflamed and itching as your body mobilises to fight infection. That's the endothelium in action.
These same endothelial cells are implicated when things go wrong in our vascular research, in atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, for instance; in the complications associated with diabetes; or in ageing. In addition, tumours need new blood vessels in order to grow. So they must stimulate endothelial cells to construct these vessels.
How our vascular research will help
We hope that, over the next decade or two, our vascular research will allow us to understand and control the endothelium in disease conditions—especially those associated with ageing. The goal of the vascular research conducted by the Vascular Biology lab is to be able to manipulate blood vessels as an avenue of disease control.
For instance, there is an increase in heart disease with age. Understanding what age means to the funcioning of endothelial cells will potentially allow us to identify individuals at greatest risk of heart disease and to develop new treatments.