Insight into blood vessel growth and how to treat blood vessel tumours
Birthmarks come in all shapes and sizes but they don’t all last forever. Take infantile hemangiomas, also known as strawberry marks. These are tumours made of tangled blood vessels beneath the skin. Occasionally they need to be treated with the drug propranolol. Researchers now demonstrate that propranolol also successfully treats some of the symptoms of a rare syndrome called HLTRS in which abnormal blood vessel growth can affect many organs and is caused by a mutation in the SOX18 gene. Using a mouse model of HLTRS, the team found that propranolol resolved the abnormal blood vessel growth in the cornea, as revealed by fluorescence microscopy of treated (pictured, right) and untreated eyes (left). Further tests showed a specific form of the drug, R-propranolol, acts specifically to reduce SOX18 activity. These insights highlight the importance of SOX18 in blood vessel tumours and the potential for R-propranolol in treating these and other vascular diseases.
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