Scientists have found that a drug used to treat leukemia and skin disorders such as acne and psoriasis may be a possible therapy for vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and hypertension, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
The team led by Joseph M. Miano, associate director of the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center had identified a number of genes that were activated or turned on by retinoids, one of which was AKAP12.
Because research in the cancer field suggested it was a tumor suppressor gene, named for its ability to hinder cancer cell growth, Miano honed in on AKAP12 to see if it might be a target of retinoids in the context of vascular disease.
They found that a specific section of the complex AKAP12 gene, called AKAP12 beta, is extremely responsive to treatment with the drug, and that ramping up its activity reduces vascular cell growth.
"Several studies have shown that when this gene is turned on, it decreases the growth of cancer cells, but this is the first time anyone's shown its ability to inhibit growth in non-cancer cells," said Miano, the study's lead author.
The study was published in the journal PLoS One.