During lung formation, alterations in vessel growth contribute to dysfunctional lung development. The research of Margaret Schwarz, M.D., focuses on the contributions that the vasculature brings to functional lung development. In order to better examine this concept, focus has been placed on the individual vessel types, as well as their ability to influence the distal lung cells to exchange oxygen.
Researchers specifically look at the influence that known vascular growth factors have on other cell types that have typically not been determined to be responsive to vascular growth factors. Within this context they have developed specific models that examine whether immature cells that are capable of becoming oxygen-exchanging cells are able to make this morphogenic change when exposed to vascular-specific growth factors. Their endpoint is to identify whether morphogenesis of these immature cells is impacted. Identifying those factors that have multi-cellular targets will greatly expand the understanding of lung development, leading to new therapeutic targets to treat disease processes that result in abnormal lung development.