London: In what could add to our knowledge of how early life develops and also lead to better treatment of heart diseases and cancer, scientists have discovered a gene that plays a vital role in blood vessel formation.
"Blood vessel networks are not already pre-constructed but emerge rather like a river system. Vessels do not develop until the blood is already flowing and they are created in response to the amount of flow," explained professor David Beech from University of Leeds in Britain.
The gene called Piezo1 provides the instructions for sensors that tell the body that blood is flowing correctly and gives the signal to form new vessel structures, the findings showed.
"The gene gives instructions to a protein which forms channels that open in response to mechanical strain from blood flow, allowing tiny electrical charges to enter cells and trigger the changes needed for new vessels to be built," Beech noted.
The research team is planning to study the effects of manipulating the gene on cancers, which require a blood supply to grow, as well as in heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, where plaques form in parts of blood vessels with disturbed blood flow.
"This work provides fundamental understanding of how complex life begins and opens new possibilities for treatment of health problems such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, where changes in blood flow are common and often unwanted," Beech added.