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Scientists gearing up for a major advancement, which would allow regulating capillary permeability

Posted December 8, 2017

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is still a huge public health problem. In some cases people lose limbs or even life. Now Associate Professor Pipsa Saharinen from the University of Helsinki is attempting to develop a method, which would essentially keep the blood vessel walls intact, preventing blood from entering the tissue.

Increased capillary permeability allows liquids ooze out into the tissue. Image credit: OpenStax College via Wikimedia(CC BY 3.0)

The reason why people, who contract sepsis, sometimes lose limbs is breaking down of the walls in the capillary vessels, which results in liquids oozing out into the tissue. Leaking blood vessels is actually a problem in some other diseases as well. For example, capillary vessels in tumours are leaking, which makes treatments much less effective. However, scientists were unable to find an effective way to combat capillary permeability, because the basic mechanism behind is poorly understood. Now Professor Pipsa Saharinen from the University of Helsinki is going to tackle this issue and, potentially, attempt to develop an effective treatment.

Saharinen already won a grant for her research, because her team made a surprising discovery. Scientists looked into the problem at the molecular level and discovered the chain of events leading to the breakdown of the walls in the capillary vessels. Growth factor known as angiopoietin-2 regulates the generation of blood vessels and participates in regulating permeability. Meanwhile the Tie2 receptor serves as a control panel for the angiopoietin-2 to control cell functions. However, at some points something goes wrong.

Scientists found that there is another pathway for the angiopoietin-2 to reach the cell. This could be triggering increase of permeability of cell walls. This can be attributed to a large number of health problems, which is why scientists are rushing to find a way to treat it. Luckily, there are medicine combating angiopoietin-2 already in trials, as this factor also participates in the development of cancer. Associate Professor Pipsa Saharinen, leader of the research team, said: “At the moment, the drugs in the clinical trials only block the Tie2 signalling pathway, leaving the pathway we discovered open. This could explain why these drugs have not been as effective as could be expected”.

Researchers are hoping to develop specific antibodies that would help regulating walls of capillary vessels. This could become a great advancement in regulating capillary permeability in many diseases.


Source: University of Helsinki

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