23.08.2019 change 23.08.2019
Karolina Duszczyk
Karolina Duszczyk

Cut off the tumour`s blood supply

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

The endothelium lines the blood vessels, it is responsible for pressure, blood flow and clotting, it is also important for the immune system. Tumours that need blood vessels to obtain nutrients also "use" it. Is it possible to stop tumour growth by inhibiting the processes affecting the endothelium?

Diamond Grant winner Oskar Ciesielski from the University of Lodz will test this hypothesis. The student from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection awarded in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education programme studies human vascular endothelium. Endothelial dysfunction can lead to serious pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer.

The endothelium is the first barrier between blood and tissues. It is needed for the proper functioning of the human body, but it also plays an important role in carcinogenesis. The endothelium is responsible for creating a network of new blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the tumour. If this process can be stopped (with the help of a drug-inhibitor), tumour growth would be inhibited and disease progression prevented.

"I will look at gene expression, the process of decoding information stored in DNA, in particular the modification of histone proteins that entwine DNA" - announces the Diamond Grant 2019 winner. He explains that the processes that take place in the cells determine which genes of our body are active. The level of gene expression depends on many factors, among them histone protein modifications. The student will focus on one specific modification: citrullination and its effect on the functioning of the vascular endothelium.

Citrulination is a very poorly understood modification, but Oskar Ciesielski expects it to be important for endothelial function. He explains that genetic factors determine the condition of the endothelium, but the activation of specific genes depends on the environment in which we live. Diet and physical activity can have beneficial as well as adverse effects. Adverse factors can interfere with endothelial function and contribute to civilization diseases. On the other hand, health-promoting substances, for example polyphenols found in tea, improve blood coagulation, facilitate blood pressure regulation, and thus improve the functioning of the whole body.

Ciesielski will check whether citrullination in combination with other modifications can regulate the formation of new blood vessels that feed the tumour. He speculates that in the future, substances that inhibit the citrullination process may be used in cancer therapies.

The project "Analysis of the epigenetic profile of modification of selected spinal histone arginines and the resulting consequences for other post-translational modifications and vascular endothelial function" is scheduled for 4 years. The grant winner received PLN 220,000 for the project.

Ciesielski is one of the eighty-five Polish winners of Diamond Grant 2019 awarded by the Minister of Science and Higher Education. This is the eighth competition in the Diamond Grant programme. This year, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin granted over PLN 17 million to finance projects of extremely gifted students. Grants can be awarded to students of uniform Master`s programs and graduates of first degree studies conducting high-level scientific research and having outstanding scientific achievements. The winners were selected from among 243 applicants in a two-stage competition procedure.

PAP - Science in Poland, Karolina Duszczyk

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