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New research could explain why cells grow out of control in rare lung disease

May 9, 2018


When cells grow out of control in the body, most people think of cancer, but this phenomenon also occurs in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a rare and deadly disease characterized by very high pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. New research co-led by Dr. Duncan Stewart may help explain why. Dr. Stewart and his colleagues found that people with PAH have high levels of a protein called translationally controlled tumour protein (TCTP) in their plasma. Using laboratory models of PAH, they also showed that when certain blood vessel cells die, they transfer this protein to other cells in the lung via tiny particles called exosomes. This causes the cells to replicate much more than normal. This research could lead to new therapies as well as a possible blood biomarker to track the progress of PAH in patients. See the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology for details.

Photo: MicroCT of rat lungs with PAH, courtesy of Dr. Ketul Chaudhary and Yupu Deng.

Authors: Ferrer E, Dunmore BJ, Hassan D, Ormiston ML, Moore S, Deighton J, Long L, Yang XD, Stewart DJ, Morrell NW.

Acknowledgements: This research was co-led by Dr. Nicholas Morrell at the University of Cambridge and Dr. Duncan Stewart at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa. This research was supported by generous donors to Regenerative Medicine Research at The Ottawa Hospital, as well as the British Heart Foundation, Societat Catalana de Pneumologia, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Cambridge National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre.

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