Dr Carmine’s talk, entitled ‘The role of the VEGF/eNOS signalling pathway in cardiovascular development’, examined the role of the gas nitric oxide in the development of juvenile cells into adult heart and vascular cells.
Says Carmine: “When developing blood vessel cells start making the building blocks for your arteries and veins, they start releasing a gas, nitric oxide. My findings demonstrated, for the first time, how blood vessels are formed during development via nitric oxide.
The study presented by Carmine at the recent AVBS meeting showed that a lack of nitric oxide inhibits the growth of blood vessels in adults as well, which could offer new targets for future therapies.
For example, damaged blood vessels might be replaced using regenerative medicine, or a potential cancer therapy might starve tumours by removing their blood supply. Absence of nitric oxide released during development results in less [juvenile] cells, with a negative impact on blood vessel formation in babies. It is like building a house without enough bricks”.
Carmine’s research at The Heart Research Institute is currently focusing on unveiling the role played by nitric oxide, and related molecules VEGF and eNOS, during heart development.
This knowledge could, in turn, be applied to help heal hearts following cardiovascular disease or heart attack.