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NIH Grant to Fund Translational Research on Blood Clotting

Blood bag (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

National Institutes of Health will fund a translational research center at University of Utah in Salt Lake City to study the cellular and molecular causes of blood clots. Andew Weyrich, a professor medicine at Utah, will lead the five-year, $16 million effort.

The new Translational Research Center in Thrombosis aims to find new diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic measures for blood clotting, and then make them available to patients as soon as possible. Weyrich, and colleagues at Utah, have done previous research with platelets, a type of blood cells that play a key role in clotting. “We have not only the knowledge of platelets,” says Weyrich, “but also the ability to conduct sophisticated approaches to challenging clinical problems.”

Thrombosis or blood clots are a serious threat to millions of people who have diabetes, are obese, or have other metabolic disorders. Platelets contribute to blood clots from a number of diseases and conditions, including atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Patients with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and a complex disorder called the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of thrombosis caused by platelets.

The Translational Research Center in Thrombosis will determine how factors in blood and tissues, including high levels of glucose and lipids or fats, cause molecular changes that make platelets more prone to induce clotting. The studies are expected to offer new insights into the treatment and management of diabetes and obesity, which are frequently associated with complications, such as thrombosis, that can be lethal.

The center plans a series of major research studies. One project, already under way, examines new molecular features of platelets that lead to thrombosis in genetically engineered mice. Other projects will focus on platelet functions that promote thrombosis in patients with diabetes, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome, for which enrollment of patients will begin soon.

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