The gene 'Piezo1' sends signal that allows
new blood vessel tributaries to grow as per the flow of blood. Professor David
Beech, who led the research, said that blood vessel networks are not already
pre-constructed but emerge rather like a river system.
Vessels do not develop until the blood is already flowing
and they are created in response to the amount of flow, he added.
"This gene, Piezo1, provides the instructions for sensors
that tell the body that blood is flowing correctly and gives the signal to form
new vessel structures.
The gene gives orders to a protein which forms channels that open in response
to mechanical strain from blood flow, letting tiny electrical charges to enter
cells and trigger the changes needed for new vessels to be built," Beech
The research team is planning to examine the effects of manipulating the gene
on cancers, which require a blood supply to grow, as well as in heart diseases
such as atherosclerosis, where plaques form in parts of blood vessels with
disturbed blood flow.
Beech said that this work provides fundamental understanding of how complex
life starts and opens new possibilities for treatment of health problems such
as cardiovascular disease and cancer, where changes in blood flow are common
and often unwanted.
Using these promising findings, we will do further research into how this gene
can be manipulated to treat these diseases as the findings are promising, the
research team said.
The research was published in the journal Nature