May 20, 2008 Physician-scientists believe that stem cells might play a harmful role in the body's reaction to trauma following common vascular surgery, like angioplasty.
A team of scientists — led by Dr. K. Craig Kent, Greenberg-Starr Professor and professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian — are currently studying how stem cells implant themselves in the wall of arteries and grow out of control.
Commonly, a blockage re-forms following angioplasty (termed re-stenosis) near the area where the procedure was performed.
The researchers observed that a chemical in the body called transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), which stimulates tissue growth, is released in high levels inside the artery following the trauma of angioplasty. Dr. Kent believes this happens because TGFbeta beckons stem cells to the irritated area to heal the wound.
This leads to the growth of dense, artery-blocking tissue.
If the scientists can learn how to shut off this response, Dr. Kent believes great progress might be made in the treatment of recurring heart disease.
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The above story is based on materials provided by New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College.
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