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Medical College Researcher to Study Vascular Anomalies

Feb. 25, 2012

Medical College Researcher to Study Vascular Anomalies

The Medical College of Wisconsin received a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to investigate the underlying mechanism that generates errors in embryonic vascular development, which can lead to vascular anomalies.

Ramani Ramchandran, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy and director of the developmental vascular biology program at the Medical College, and an investigator at the Children’s Research Institute, is the principal investigator for the grant.

Vascular anomalies occur in one percent of the population. These abnormalities are malformations of the vascular system of capillaries, arteries and veins. Some cases involve relatively harmless birthmarks, but others can interfere with proper blood circulation and stress the heart to pump harder. These more serious cases often present a clinical challenge due to the lack of effective therapies available for treatment.

In this project, Dr. Ramchandran will study two genes, Sucrose non-fermenting related kinase-1 (Snrk-1) and Dual specific phosphatase-5 (Dusp-5), in which mutations were previously identified by his lab in patients with vascular anomalies. By understanding how these two genes influence the embryonic development of endothelial cells, which make up the interior lining of blood and lymphatic vessels, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of the formation of vascular anomalies.

Dr. Ramchandran’s research on these genes may provide viable new targets to combat these anomalies. It is further anticipated that FDA-approved drugs could be repurposed for vascular anomalies, which would greatly shorten the drug development cycle for these new targets.

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