William Harvey Medical Research Foundation  

About Sir John Vane

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[Picture of Sir John Vane] Sir John Vane is our Field Marshall in the battle against disease. He has devoted his life to battling the disease enemy with new pharmaceutical weapons, with new biochemical intelligence and with new alliances among disparate human communities in big pharma, academia and self-help groups. In 1982 his efforts were recognized with a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Since that time he has re-doubled his efforts to fight disease, with a special focus on curing pulmonary hypertension.

In the 1980ís Sir John Vane led the scientific research and development team which created FLOLAN, the only life-saving drug for pulmonary hypertension.

In 1971, Vane and his colleagues discovered that aspirin and similar drugs produced their effects because they inhibited the biosynthesis of a group of lipid mediators called prostaglandins. In the last five years it has become clear that there are two enzymes involved. One of the "cyclo-oxygenases" called Cox 1 is responsible for making prostaglandins, which protect the stomach and kidney from damage. Inhibition of Cox 1 accounts for the unwanted side effects of aspirin-like drugs such as gastric irritation and renal damage. The other enzyme, Cox 2, is induced by inflammatory stimuli and it is prostaglandins made by this enzyme that contribute to the inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The presently marketed aspirin-like drug inhibits both enzymes and our research may lead to selective inhibition of Cox 2, the enzyme responsible for inflammation.

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