Toronto, Feb 20 : A new gene that helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues has been identified, an advance that can help improve treatments for heart diseases and stroke.
STEEL (for spliced-transcript endothelial-enriched lncRNA), was one of the genes in a newly described group of genes called long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs that was found to sense inadequate blood flow in microscopic blood vessels.
The findings could help scientists better understand cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and strokes, which result from inadequate blood flow.
It could also lead to advances in efforts to grow replacement organs or to block blood vessels in tumours.
"What is really interesting is that STEEL helps our body respond to inadequate blood flow by growing more blood vessels," said Jeffrey Man, a researcher at St.
Michael's Hospital in Canada.
"These results show that our bodies are really finely tuned to perform, just as we need them to, and also demonstrate that disruptions to this fine balance can cause problems"
"The data can be used to improve our understanding of blood vessel diseases and help us find ways to improve healing and recovery after injury," Man said.
RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is found in all cells and it has traditionally been thought that its main job was to carry instructions from the genes in DNA to make proteins.
But lncRNAs have other roles, including determining the eventual function that individual cells will play in an organism.
Studying lncRNAs gives researchers opportunities to find new markers and tests to help make diagnoses for patients.