NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of California, San Diego, has netted a $10 million grant to seek out genetic and molecular signatures for response to low oxygen levels in fruit flies with the aim of understanding and developing innovations for hypoxia tolerance.
The funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will support research at UCSD's School of Medicine and at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute that will examine the impact of low oxygen levels on cells and tissues in the heart, lung, and brain.
The effort will use Drosophila as a model to study the fundamental genetic mechanisms of low-level oxygen tolerance and to identify the molecular signatures of both hypoxia tolerance and susceptibility.
The researchers also will study adaptive mechanisms to hypoxia in cardiovascular and respiratory systems and to manipulate the molecular mechanisms in mammalian cells, tissues, and animals to make them hypoxia tolerant.
"Understanding the molecular, cellular, and genetic mechanisms that contribute to low oxygen tolerance or susceptibility will have a major impact on our treatments of central nervous system and cardio-respiratory diseases such as stroke, myocardial ischemia/infarction, obstructive sleep apnea, and pulmonary hypertension," Gabriel Haddad, who is chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UCSD, physician-in-chief at Rady Children's Hospital – San Diego, and principal investigator on the grant, said in a statement.