U-M receives $3.7 million grant for blood clot disorder research

Ann Arbor, Mich. - The National Institutes of Health has given the University of Michigan Health System Department of Surgery/Vascular Surgery and the Jobst Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory a five-year, $3.7 million research grant.

The Novel Therapeutic Targets for Venous Thromboembolism grant will be used by two principle investigators, Thomas Wakefield, M.D., professor of surgery at U-M, and Denise Wagner, M.D., from Harvard University. Researchers from U-M, Harvard and Archemix, a biopharmaceutical company, are working to further research that will allow for eventual clinical application and treatment of a blood clotting condition called venous thromboembolism, or VTE, which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

In May 2006, Wakefield was invited as one of approximately 50 people to present in front of the U.S. Surgeon General about his knowledge of DVT and PE. As part of a Call to Action by the Surgeon General, the NIH called for research proposals around the United States. Wakefield and Wagner's proposal was one of eight research projects selected by NIH.

The research will begin with basic laboratory studies to understand the biology of VTE and to identify potential drugs that would provide a safer and more effective way to fight clotting conditions such as DVT and PE. 
Within five years, the investigators hope to work with the drug they determine to be most useful and create a medication that limits or prevents clotting, yet does not carry the risk of bleeding that all current agents have.
DVT occurs when one or more blood clots form in the body's large veins, typically in the legs. The clots cause partial or complete blocking of circulation in the vein and can have fatal consequences. More than one-third of individuals with DVT experience a PE. 
A PE occurs when the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs. It is a life-threatening condition, killing about 10 percent of those affected by it. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 900,000 individuals experience DVT and PE each year. 
Recent research has provided effective measures to prevent and treat DVT and PE. However, a greater awareness and recognition about what DVT and PE are is necessary, Wakefield says. This new grant will allow researchers to gain that better understanding. 
Causes of DVT include, among others, immobility for long periods of time, pre-existing clotting disorders, cancer and problems with the veins themselves. Prolonged air travel, surgery or trauma also put people at risk for developing a blood clot.   
The additional researchers on the grant are Robert Schaub, Ph.D., Archemix; Daniel Myers, D.V.M., U-M assistant professor of vascular surgery; Peter K. Henke, M.D., U-M associate professor of vascular surgery; Lena Napolitano, M.D., U-M professor of surgery; Pauline K. Park, M.D., U-M associate professor of surgery, Anthony Comerota, M.D., U-M adjunct professor of surgery; and members of the Jobst Vascular Surgery Research Laboratory.
This research supports a new multidisciplinary vein management clinic that is being organized in the U-M Cardiovascular Center that includes physicians from Vascular Surgery, Vascular and Interventional Radiology and Cardiovascular Medicine. This unique program will provide complete diagnostic and therapeutic management of the disorders examined in this research. For more information on the vein management clinic call 888-287-1082.

National Institutes of Health

Written by Jessica Brown

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