Research – Vascular Biology

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Vascular Medicine and Endothelial Stem Cell Regulation

Stemming the tide of cardiovascular disease: advanced diagnostics, prevention, and stem cell treatments

Prof. Arnon Blum has dedicated his research to understanding the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease and to seeking interventions that can slow and even reverse this deadly disease. Prof. Blum focuses on honing predictive diagnostic techniques, preventive measures, and novel treatments designed to regenerate cardiovascular tissue.

Diagnostic techniques—advanced ultrasound imaging for a precise snapshot of disease:  Over the past 10 years, Prof. Blum and his researchers have developed advanced techniques for accurately predicting a patient’s potential for serious cardiovascular events such as cardiac arrest and vein blockage. Using non-invasive ultrasound imaging, Blum and his team measure endothelial function, estimate cardiovascular risk and define goals of treatment. Prof. Blum’s method is based on a series of intensive vascular studies at the molecular and cellular level coupled with new methods of blood vessel ultrasound imaging.  The combined research has resulted in clearly-defined associations between the advancement of vascular disease and the image detected on the monitor, such that using this advanced imaging technique actually summarizes a long chain of cardiovascular biochemical and inflammatory reactions. “Our goal,” says Prof. Blum, “Is to continue searching for mechanistic insights in atherosclerosis using advanced cellular, molecular and advanced imaging techniques.

Preventive measures—exercise activates the body’s repair mechanisms: “Exercise is a powerful tool to prevent cardiovascular disease, to enhance endogenous stem cell production and mobilization. It is more important than weight, and could replace medications,” says Prof. Blum. The reasoning behind his statement lays in years of research exploring the mechanisms of pathogenesis, that is, the origins of cardiovascular disease. Prof. Blum has documented the almost immediate effect of exercise in increasing endothelial stem cell mobilization and greater endothelial elasticity.

Novel treatments—stem cell transplants reverse cardiac disease: The development of atherosclerosis (arterial cholesterol build-up) and heart disease is connected to endothelial stem cell (ETC) activity. Endothelial stem cells are responsible for the maintenance of the endothelium, the inner walls of all blood vessels and the heart. Prof. Blum has discovered that patients with heart disease and vascular disorders produce less endothelial stem cells, and that ETC transplants subjectively and objectively improved the patient’s condition by reversing the damage of a failing heart.

Prof. Blum’s dream is to build a Vascular Regenerative Center that will serve Northern Israel and research vascular medicine, stem cell physiology, and transplantation research. The Center would also serve as a Cardiovascular Clinical Center for risk assessment, prevention, and stem cell transplant to patients with heart disease and other vascular disorders, such as ischemic stroke, ischemic skin ulcers, and erectile dysfunction.