Novel biomarker may benefit patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

Written by Naamah Maundrell, Future Science Group

New research by doctoral student Anna Sandquist at Umeå University (Umeå, Sweden) highlights the importance of a new biomarker in diagnosing and treating pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The novel blood biomarker has been demonstrated to reflect the vasoreactivity of lung blood vessels in individuals with heart and lung disease.

Sandquist explained: “We have discovered that the biomarkers that we have investigated have a particularly high diagnostic value in PAH, by comparing with heart failure and healthy individuals. These biomarkers have the potential to be used as a routine diagnostic strategy and in the evaluation of PAH patients.

“Since the levels of these markers in the blood are reflecting the clinical efficacy of PAH specific medical treatment, there is good hope that they soon can be used routinely to measure treatment response. The results are so far based on around 20 PAH patients, which means that more research is necessary on larger patient groups.”

This doctoral thesis further investigated the treatment of PAH. At present, PAH is treated with medications that dilate blood vessels to reduce pulmonary pressure.  Sandquist suggests that a new drug – vardenafil – could soon be utilized in both the diagnosis and treatment of PAH.

Sandquist reported: “Vardenafil has a fast onset and powerful effect on the blood vessels of the lungs. But if vardenafil is used in combination with the endothelin receptor antagonist bosentan – another pharmaceutical often used by patients with PAH – the effect of treatment can be hampered and lead to the need of increasing the dosage of vardenafil. Therapeutic drug monitoring may thus become necessary to check the pharmaceutical concentrations in the blood in order to optimize the dosage.”

These findings were based upon the analysis of 20 PAH-diagnosed individuals, so future research may involve recruiting a larger cohort to validate current findings.