Both coding and non-coding (e.g. microRNAs) genes play a crucial role for the regulation of smooth muscle phenotype, which may have major implications for the progression of vascular disease. However, the genetic regulation of smooth muscle phenotype is just beginning to be understood and there is an immense potential for novel discoveries in the field.
The general aim of our research is to identify new genes, both coding and non-coding, that are important for smooth muscle phenotype modulation in vascular disease.
In order to achieve this goal we have unique mouse models and reagents as well as access to fresh human blood vessels from patients undergoing bypass surgery.
Our studies have identified a number of novel genes that are involved in the regulation of smooth muscle phenotype. In recent years, our research has been focused on the role of smooth muscle miRNAs in mechanosensing of smooth muscle. However, we are also investigating the importance of smooth muscle genes regulated by the actin cytoskeleton and hyperglycemia since we believe that these are two vital factors in the development of vascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide and novel treatment strategies are warranted. MicroRNAs represent a promising new class of drug targets against several disease states, including vascular disease.