Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel Approaches To Heart Disease And Inflammation

Date:
September 30, 2008
Source:
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Summary:
While cholesterol-lowering drugs and new technologies have significantly advanced the nation's battle against heart disease, it continues to rank as the No. 1 killer of US men and women. But new research shows that the body's immune system could become an important player in reducing heart disease.

While cholesterol-lowering drugs and new technologies have significantly advanced the nation's battle against heart disease, it continues to rank as the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women. But if researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) have their way, the body's immune system will become an important player in reducing heart disease.

"The statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) have taken a big chunk out of the numbers of people who suffer from heart disease and heart attacks," said Klaus Ley, M.D., director of the Institute's recently launched Inflammation Biology Division. "We hope we can bite off another chunk by controlling the impact of inflammation-causing immune cells on the artery wall."

Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., LIAI president & scientific director, said the Institute recruited Dr. Ley, one of the leading research experts in the field, to head the new division. "We are excited to have a scientist of Dr. Ley's stature lead our new Inflammation Biology Division," he said. "Its creation puts us in a very select group of immunology institutions worldwide that are exploring new ways of fighting heart disease using the immense power of the immune system."

Ley said the immune system's role in heart disease is a relatively recent finding, with the first inklings of its importance discovered in the early 1980s. Prior to that time, scientists believed that atherosclerosis, a blockage in the arteries and the underlying cause of most heart problems, was due to plaque formation caused solely by cholesterol buildup. "The scientific community used to think cholesterol alone led to plaque formation," Ley explained. "While it is true that cholesterol plays a major role, it is not the whole story."

Ley, an internationally recognized scientist who helped pioneer the scientific discipline of vascular immunology, which looks at novel immune-based approaches to heart disease, said inflammation caused by the immune system is also an important participant in plaque formation and weakening of the artery wall. As such, it offers a whole new therapeutic avenue for potential ways to combat heart disease.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ley was director of the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Virginia, where he oversaw the efforts of the Center's faculty while also conducting his own research program. Ley was recently selected as the 2008 recipient of the Marie T. Bonazinga Research Award from the Society for Leukocyte Biology. Ley will receive the award in November in recognition for his work illuminating the basic cellular mechanisms underlying inflammation, particularly as it relates to heart disease.

Mark Ginsberg, M.D., a distinguished professor of medicine at UC San Diego and member of the University's new Institute of Engineering in Medicine, which Ley recently joined as an adjunct faculty member, said he is delighted to welcome someone of Ley's achievements as a colleague.

In the 1980s, Ley said immunology's role in heart disease first came to light when immunology researchers found that plaque buildup in the arteries also contained inflammation-causing T cells of the immune system. "This opened up the possibility that the inflammatory process was important in heart disease," said Ley. Further study found that inflammatory T cells not only contributed to plaque formation, but they also played a key role in the rupture of the artery wall, which produces a heart attack.

It is this aspect of the inflammatory process that draws Ley's primary attention. He focuses on macrophages, white blood cells of the immune system that usually rid the body of worn-out cells. However, in the case of the artery wall, the macrophages take on a destructive role, exacerbating the weakening of the artery wall caused by plaque formation. "The macrophages switch on a very specific program that we are trying to understand and to decipher why it weakens, rather than heals, the artery wall," said Ley, noting that the macrophages weaken the wall to the point of rupturing, which produces a heart attack. "We believe if we can stop that process, we can stop the rupture," said Ley. "This would have major implications for combating heart disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Novel Approaches To Heart Disease And Inflammation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930075703.htm>.
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. (2008, September 30). Novel Approaches To Heart Disease And Inflammation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930075703.htm
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. "Novel Approaches To Heart Disease And Inflammation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080930075703.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins