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UVA Explores Possible Treatment for Circulatory Disease - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Explores Possible Alternative Treatment for Circulatory Disease

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There's good news for millions of Americans who suffer from circulatory disease. The University of Virginia Medical Center is opening up new avenues in treatment. 

For those who suffer with peripheral aterial disease (PAD), surgery or the insertion of a catheter are typically the only solutions, but UVA's Chief of Cardiology Brian Annex and other researchers at UVA have discovered there may be a non-invasive treatment.

PAD is a lot like heart disease, except that instead of blockages in the heart, there are blockages in the legs.  These blockages can extend all the way down the legs.

Dr. Kenneth Cherry has been operating on patients with PAD for about 30 years.

"A lot of these people are older they have a lot of problems with their lungs and heart and if there were less invasive methods they could be treated medically so they would improve it would be to their benefit," said Cherry.

Doctors treating PAD say that there is no way to tell who will have symptoms of the disease. Also unpredictable is which patients will improve with treatment or suffer complications that may result in amputation or death.

Annex and his team have developed a breakthrough - an understanding of how the body builds alternative blood vessels that go around the blocked arteries and how to enhance that process with medicine.

"We can affect a very important series of genes within a pathway that affected in a good way or a bad way the growth of blood vessels," said Annex.

Making micro RNA is the key to success for the research and the patient's health.

"It also provides hope for therapy that… these people could be treated medically," said Cherry.

Annex says the discovery changes doctors' fundamental understanding of the disease. He says the next steps are clinical trials.

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