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Vascular Pharmacology

Diseases of the circulation (such as hypertension, heart failure, coronary vascular disease and stroke) are some of the biggest killers in Western society. In the Department, we aim to improve understanding of the effects of disease on blood vessel formation and function, and to produce strategies for prevention and alleviation of organ damage arising from blood vessel malfunction. Current work is aimed at understanding the ways in which blood vessels respond as complete tissues (involving the complex interactions between endothelial and smooth muscle elements) as well as the ways in which they are driven into developing new vasculature (angiogenesis). Dr Matthew Harper investigates platelets, the smallest cell in the circulation, which are essential for maintaining blood vessel integrity. The Harper lab focuses on cell death signalling in platelets and how this might contribute blood vessel malfunction. Platelet death at sites of vascular injury may be involved in thrombosis, leading to blood vessel blockage and downstream organ damage, heart failure or stroke. In contrast, excessive platelet death (for example, triggered by drug treatment) might lead to very low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) and excessive bleeding from damaging blood vessels. Dr Tai-Ping Fan is interested in mechanisms underlying the formation of new blood vessels from existing vascular bed (angiogenesis). The Fan lab focuses on the mechanisms of action of three angiogenic factors: thymidine phosphorylase (TP), hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Both the Hiley and Fan labs have an interest in finding new drugs, with the Fan lab being especially interested in exploiting the angiogenesis- and immuno-modulating effects of natural products from herbal medicines ( or novel synthetic compounds inspired by such investigations for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis, diabetic retinopathy, cancer etc, while the Hiley lab has collaborations with the Department of Chemistry (Glen group) in Cambridge to try to develop novel 5HT1b receptor antagonists for use in, amongst other conditions, pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Academics specializing in this area