Gleevec (Imatinib) is a representative of the newest generation ofcancer drugs. The substance conveys its potent anti-proliferativeeffect by selectively supressing the tyrosine kinase pathway. TheGiessen lung researchers now issue a first report of this substance asa new target therapy for pulmonary hypertension. "In cancer, tissueproliferation is uncontrolled and leads to the spreading of the tumor,"primary investigator Prof. Friedrich Grimminger of the University ofGiessen Lung Center explained. "In pulmonary hypertension, also,uncontrolled growth of the vascular wall is the underlying mechanism ofthe disease." Pulmonary hypertension is a chronic and life-shorteningvascular disease characterized by high pressure in the lung bloodvessels. The relatively common condition can occur for many reasonssuch as heart disease and various acute and chronic lung ailments. As aresult, the pulmonary arteries thicken and stiffen, causing high bloodpressure and right heart hypertrophy.
In a translational research approach, taking their research "frombench to bedside", Dr. Ralph Schermuly of the same German center onlyrecently described the successful use of Gleevec (Imatinib) in two wellestablished experimental models of progressive pulmonary arterialhypertension. His group found, that the treatment resulted in virtuallycomplete reversal of lung vascular remodeling, pulmonary hypertensionand right heart hypertrophy. The common findings suggest, thatGleevec's uses might expand even further. Co-researcher Dr. ArdeschirGhofrani is convinced, that the results of their studies may open acompletely new therapeutic field of targeted treatment for chronicproliferative diseases such as atherosclerosis, COPD, lung emphysema orlung fibrosis.
Larger clinical trials in a controlled design to test Gleevec's safetyand effectiveness are currently in preparation under the scientificlead of the Giessen lung researchers, who also signed largelyresponsible for the recent appproval of Revatio
The UGLC constitutes an interdisciplinary scientific networkincorporating 20 research groups with more than 120 basic scientistsand clinicians, focusing on pulmonary research and treatment of lungdiseases at the University Hospital Giessen, Germany.
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