PH Research Corner: Developing Novel Therapies for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. 

10.30.2014

shutterstock_147129197-300x200.jpgIn this corner, you will find the latest advancements in the field of PAH therapeutics. But before we get into that, I think it would be useful to start with information on how new therapies are tested before getting to the patients.

The process starts with a screen of different chemicals. In PAH, we know that cells in blood vessels in the lungs are hyper-proliferative, meaning that they multiply too quickly, very similarly to a cancerous cell. Thus, screening usually focuses on drugs that slow down this process. In other cases, scientists rely on previous knowledge regarding a drug to generate a hypothesis of how that drug might function. Testing the drug in vitro (on cells grown in a lab) is usually crucial to understand its function and how it works, and sets the stage for the following steps of animal testing. If positive results are found in animal tests, scientists then start thinking about testing in humans.

To be able to start human clinical trials for PAH, researchers need proof that animals being treated with the new drug experience positive effects. After this and after extensive tests for safety, therapies can progress to being tested on humans. The overall process can take several years to proceed to human trials. This is why you might read about a new treatment that shows promise, but you might not see it in human trials for a long time.

Now that we have some idea of what the research process looks like, in our next Research Corner, we’ll talk about some of the promising therapeutics currently in the field of PAH. See you then!    

Contributed by: Mohamad Taha, B. Sc. PhD Candidate, Department of Cellular & Molecular MedicineFaculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa

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