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Vascular Inflammation

Researchers within Vascular Inflammation are investigating the processes that regulate the production of two important classes of mediators; endothelins and prostaglandins. Endothelins are peptides (very small proteins) that cause blood vessels to constrict and thicken. This suggests endothelins could well be involved in a number of human disease states, most notably hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Normally endothelins are made in very small amounts. However, inflammation and other disease processes lead to the production of small signalling molecules called cytokines that can greatly increase the formation of endothelins. This provides the link between inflammatory disease and endothelins. These same cytokines also cause the formation of an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2). This is very similar to cyclo-oxygenase 1 (COX-1) that is normally found throughout the body. Both enzymes make small, fat-based molecules called prostaglandins. But while COX-1 produces prostaglandins that promote health and normal bodily functioning, COX-2 produces prostaglandins that drive inflammation and disease processes. So our researchers are trying to understand how cytokines enhance the production of endothelins and prostaglandins, whereabouts in the body these events happen, and how various drugs could be used to redress the balance away from inflammation and back towards normality. To achieve these ends we use a range of tools from cutting edge molecular biology and biochemical techniques to traditional pharmacological preparations. If you are interested in our research please contact us directly (t.d.warner@mds.qmw.ac.uk) .

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