A 3-D microscopic imaging technology has been developed to identify and monitor the protein organisation associated with cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Missouri have created a way to analyse the processes that cause the stiffening of arteries that lead to the circulatory complications experienced by patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As a result of the investigation, it was found that the elastin protein plays a key role in arterial wall functioning. Previously, the majority of knowledge on the compilation of blood vessels was "based on older methodologies that only measured the amount of protein in the artery wall and not how the proteins were architecturally arranged to support artery functions", professor Gerald Meininger, researcher on the study, explained. The new method and discovery could eventually help researchers and physicians understand and treat the conditions. Elastin is also believed to play a key role in lung functioning, and the breakdown of the protein through smoking is believed to drive emphysema. Researcher A McGarry Houghton and colleagues at Harvard Medical School reported that elastases cause emphysema in mice through the generation of pro-inflammatory elastin fragments in smokers.
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