Growth factor may determine who grows new blood vessels that protect against heart attacks

d better."

The findings may also have implications for treating several other diseases. Cancerous tumors, for example, do not grow unless they develop blood vessels, which 'feed' the tumor. Diabetic retinopathy, which can result in blindness, is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye's retina.

"One would propose that in patients with tumors, those who produce higher levels of VEGF (high responders) might have more aggressive tumors, which could spread early," Levy said. "Patients with diabetes who are high responders may develop diabetic retinopathy earlier than low responders." If so, patients with both diseases might be helped by treatments that reduce their ability to produce VEGF.

Scientists don't yet know whether the vast differences in VEGF production are due to an as-yet-unidentified molecule in the patient's blood plasma or to differences in the activity of their cells. If the answer proves to be a difference in cellular activity, it could result from several things, including environmental factors or genetic influences.

Dr. Levy and his colleagues said recent laboratory experiments using breast cancer cells lends credence to the theory that genes are the key factor in determining the degree of VEGF activity.

Co-authors include: Aylit Schultz, B.A.; Lena Lavie, D.Sc.; Irit Hochberg, B.S.; Rafael Beyar, M.D., D.Sc.; Tzachi Stone; Karl Skorecki, M.D.; Peretz Lavie, Ph.D.; and Ariel Roguin, M.D.


Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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