Scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, are the first to discover a switch inside blood vessel cells that controls angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth).

The switch, they learned, is turned on and off by the balance between two enzymes (known as PI3K and PLCg) that compete for the use of the same lipid membrane to fulfill opposite missions, growth and regression, respectively. This finding could lead to new, more targeted drugs for diseases such as cancer, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. The study, titled “Regulating angiogenesis at the level of PtdIns-4,5P2,” is published in The EMBO Journal (May 17, 2006).