Serpil C. Erzurum, MD, Chair, Pathobiology, Sathyamangla V. Prasad, PhD, Molecular Cardiology, and W. H. Wilson Tang, MD, Cardiovascular Medicine, received a 5-yr, $3.4M R01 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health (NHLBI/NIH) for “Pulmonary vascular-right ventricular axis research program.”
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a fatal disease associated with increased pulmonary artery pressure and abnormalities in blood vessel growth. Heart failure is the primary cause of death, but current therapies focus entirely on treating the pulmonary hypertension. The determinants of heart failure are unknown. Some patients have adaptive responses of the heart and retain good function for years, while others have progressive heart failure. The multiple principal investigator team of Drs. Erzurum, Prasad, and Tang will study fundamental mechanisms underlying the development and progression of heart failure. This knowledge will help develop successful strategies for comprehensive treatment of the pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
Bruce Lamb, PhD, and Richard Ransohoff, MD, Neurosciences, received a 2-year, $772K grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for “Novel genetic models to study the role of inflammation in brain injury-induced pathology.”
The work will investigate potential treatments for the growing numbers of military personnel and civilians who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Drs. Lamb and Ransohoff focus on how TBIs lead to neurodegeneration, often specifically to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Their work supports the concept that TBIs induce infiltration of peripheral monocytes and acute and local activation of microglia in the brain, leading to chronic pathological brain conditions that set the stage for development of AD later in life.They aim to assess the role of infiltrating monocytes and activated microglia in development of neurodegenerative pathologies and to develop and validate genetic models to fluorescently tag the cells in animal models.
Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD, Biomedical Engineering and Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, received a 2-year, $424K R21 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health (NHLBI/NIH) for “Cardioscopy? New platform for less invasive surgery on the beating heart.”
Conventional cardiac surgery provides excellent access and visualization for the correction of structural heart defects; however, it requires opening the chest and operating on an arrested, nonbeating heart. Dr. Mihaljevic aims to develop a less invasive approach to cardiac surgery by using a flexible fiberoptic cardioscope and an extracorporeal clear imaging fluid bypass circuit to provide direct cardiac visualization in a beating heart. This technique could potentially replace many surgical procedures that require removal of the sternum, eliminate the added risks associated with re-operations, and provide a safer approach for high-risk patients and elderly patients with valve regurgitation.
Sanjay Pimplikar, PhD, Neurosciences, received a 1-year, $260K research grant from Baxter, Intl for “Efficacy of IVIg in a preclinical model of Alzheimer's disease.”
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) poses an increasing burden on society, and, with a rapidly aging population, there is an urgent need to find an effective treatment. There is growing realization that alternative approaches are needed to treat AD. Intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg) have been used to treat many immune disorders, and preliminary clinical studies show positive effects of IVIg treatment in AD patients. With this study, Dr. Pimplikar will validate this approach in an animal model of AD to uncover the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of IVIg in AD patients. The results may lead to the identification of more effective drugs to fight AD.
Ganes Sen, PhD, the Thomas Lord Endowed Chair of Molecular Biology and Chair, Molecular Genetics, received a 2-year, $260K research grant from Allergan, Inc. for “Exploration of the TLR3 inhibitor's mechanisms.”
Cells use Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) to initiate an immune response to double-stranded RNA, which is often produced by virus-infected or apoptotic (dying) cells. Specific mutations in TLR3 have been linked to macular degeneration (MD), a major disease in the aging population that causes visual impairment. Since Dr. Sen is an expert in understanding the signaling pathways activated by TLR3, he has teamed up with Allergan, Inc. to help develop clinically useful inhibitors of MD. His lab will analyze the effects of Allergan’s candidate TLR3 inhibitors in retinal epithelial cells.