NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at Jefferson Medical College has landed a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to work study how expression of some genes can influence platelet function in the blood, such as clotting or bleeding, in order to develop better predictors of cardiovascular disease and potential therapeutic strategies.
The college, which is part of Thomas Jefferson University, will partner on the four-year research effort with Baylor College of Medicine.
The research will focus on studying platelet microRNAs, about which little is known, and will involve 180 healthy patients who have been prescreened for potentially skewing drug interactions.
“This study is at the leading-edge of platelet genetic research,” explained Paul Bray, director of the Division of Hematology in the Jefferson Medical College’s Department of Medicine, in a statement. He will serve as principal investigator on the research.
Bray said that currently there is a limited knowledge about what controls platelet gene expression, and that some patients have hyper-functioning platelets that can lead to strokes and heart attacks and others have bleeding disorders because their blood does not clot well. They key to these differences may lie in microRNAs.
“People who suffer clotting problems may have different levels of platelet microRNAs than do healthy people," Bray added. "We are going to study platelet microRNAs from healthy individuals and determine how these levels correlate with platelet function. Once we know the situation in healthy subjects, we can assess the critical microRNA levels in patients with unhealthy platelet function. This may serve as a biomarker to predict who might be at risk for bleeding or clotting in different clinical settings and to predict who may benefit from specific drug therapies.”