Building better blood vessels

A research team led by Flinders University’s new Strategic Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, Arduino Mangoni (pictured) is developing novel drugs to regulate the function and growth of blood vessels, paving the way for potential breakthroughs in cancer, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Mangoni, who returns to Flinders after three years at the University of Aberdeen, will continue to work collaboratively with his former workplace to test drugs developed by one of his PhD students to regulate the way the body handles nitric oxide – an essential molecule which controls blood vessel function, growth and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients across organs and tissues.

These drugs, and other similar drugs that will now be developed under his guidance at Flinders, could help block the formation of new blood vessels, which is important in cancer medicine, and could also help reduce cell damage in the brain.

“My main research focus here at Flinders is to drive the development of new drugs to regulate nitric oxide, which is a very important molecule that modulates the tone and the growth of blood vessels,” Professor Mangoni said.

“We also hope to develop similar molecules that act as tracers – these tracers would bind to certain areas of the body then show up on a scanner to detect anomalies in blood vessels which may signal a more serious condition such as cancer,” he said.

Born in Italy, Professor Mangoni graduated from the University of Milan in 1991 with a medical degree then spent several years involved in cardiology training and research in Italy and the US.

He completed his PhD in Clinical Pharmacology at King’s College, London, in 2003 and that same year was appointed Senior Lecturer and later Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Flinders University.

In 2009 he left Australia to take up a position as the Chair of Medicine of Old Age at the University of Aberdeen before returning to Flinders earlier this year.

Professor Mangoni said he was drawn back to Flinders for the opportunity to provide strong leadership in research and training, and to co-ordinate a “competitive research program” focusing on cardiovascular pharmacology and drug safety and efficacy in older patients.

Based at Flinders Medical Centre, he is also working as a Senior Consultant in Clinical Pharmacology and Internal Medicine for the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

“It’s great to be back – I see some tremendous opportunities for the discipline and I hope to consolidate our strengths and further raise our profile nationally and internationally.”

On a personal note, Professor Mangoni has dedicated the strategic appointment to his late father, who played an instrumental role in his career.

“My father was a neurologist and an academic himself – he taught me to travel, to gain world experience and to broaden my knowledge.

“This has been very useful in my academic career and I cannot thank him enough.”

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