How medical research is taking care of your heart


Thirty years of adventures in vascular biology

The Croonian Lecture is the most prestigious lecture of The Royal Society and for the first time it is being held in Scotland.

The UK has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the world - one British adult dies from the disease every three minutes - and stroke is the country's third biggest killer, claiming 70,000 lives each year. The event is set to outline the pioneering progress made in the treatment of heart conditions.

Professor Moncada, FRS, Director for the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research and member of the National Academy USA, was named the superstar of British science in the 1990s by the US-based Institute for Scientific Information.

Professor Moncada's contributions to heart research include his early involvement in the finding that aspirin-like drugs inhibit prostaglandin biosynthesis thereby explaining the action of this famous and early pain-killing drug, which is now used extensively to reduce heart disease by "blood thinning". Professor Moncada also discovered prostacyclin, another drug currently used to treat heart conditions.

More recently, his group showed that nitric oxide is derived from the blood vessel wall and is responsible for relaxation of blood vessels and hence controlling blood pressure, explaining the actions of many vascular relaxing drugs including Viagra.

In the early 1970s, the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that lines blood and lymph vessels, was considered to be just an static layer covering the inner side of blood vessels. But, since then, major discoveries have revealed that it is a highly metabolic organ involved in the regulation of the vessel wall; indeed, alterations in its behaviour are some of the initial disturbances leading to vessel wall pathology in conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and thrombosis.

Professor Eddy Liew, Director of the Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre, University of Glasgow, said: "The significance of scientific discoveries for our understanding, treatment and knowledge of heart conditions is set to be debated and highlighted during this prestigious event".

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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