UF researchers are using the leaves of plants to study new ways to deliver drugs that treat pulmonary hypertension, a disease with few treatment options, according to a study published online in the September issue of the journal Hypertension.
Researchers at UF Health and the University of Pennsylvania have identified hormones that can be used to treat pulmonary hypertension. The twist is the way the hormones are delivered: They are grown in the leaves of plants at a high-tech greenhouse at the University of Pennsylvania.
In patients with pulmonary hypertension, the arteries of the lungs become constricted, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the lungs. Over time, the heart’s right chamber, usually small, becomes enlarged and dysfunctional.
Currently, the most successful drugs for the disease cost tens of thousands of dollars, said UF researcher Vinayak Shenoy, Ph.D., one of two lead authors of the paper.
“Pulmonary hypertension is relatively a rare disease. It’s been neglected by the industry, and so there aren’t many drugs out there,” said Shenoy, an assistant research scientist in the UF College of Pharmacy’s department of pharmacodynamics. “The first drug for pulmonary hypertension was approved in 1995, although the disease was known since the early 1900s.”