Led by principal investigator John Chappell, Ph.D., the Chappell Lab studies how the blood vasculature develops during early organ formation and during certain diseases such as tumor progression and neurological disorders. Increased insight into the basic mechanisms of blood vessel formation will guide the design of clinical therapies for vascular-related pathologies.
Working jointly with scientists at Vanderbilt University, Chappell’s lab explained how a genetic mutation gives rise to Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome, which fosters an increased risk for developing cancer, but is characterized by benign lesions that can cause serious complications in the retina, brain, spinal cord, and the inner ear. The study found that the mutation severely reduced how the vessels branched out in later development, but also it significantly accelerated the maturation of arterial vessels — especially in the cells that line the blood vessels called pericytes. These cells wrap around the endothelial cells that line blood vessels and help regulate blood flow and maintain vessel integrity and stability.