Federally Funded Research Studies
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Researchers have discovered new details about the body’s response to the influenza virus. While our immune response is meant to protect us from the virus, it can become just as dangerous when it gets too aggressive and damages tissues. Researchers identified a “decoy” molecule that may reduce the harmful inflammatory response. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the results are published in Cell Reports.
Scientists are investigating Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (SARS-Cov) and its interaction with the body’s immune system. SARS-Cov is a highly pathogenic virus that causes acute lung injury (ALJ), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and pulmonary fibrosis. Researchers are identifying factors that determine the progression from ALJ to pulmonary fibrosis. Findings will allow more precise and effective interventions for viral infections that lead to similar lung damage. The study is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Researchers have identified new compounds that could treat depression in less than 24-hours while minimizing side effects. The compounds could offer significant advantages over current antidepressant medications and lay the groundwork to transform the treatment of depression. The study is funded by NIH and results were published in Neuropsychopharmacology.
Northeast Ohio Medical University
Bile acids play critical roles in the digestion of fat and glucose, and the disruption of these acids causes liver inflammation, fatty liver diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Researchers are investigating the role of a key regulatory gene involved in bile acid synthesis pathway. Findings will increase our understanding of the development of and treatment for liver diseases, diabetes, and obesity. The studies are supported by the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease (NIDDK).
Researchers are investigating blood flow regulation in microvessels of the heart as an underlying cause of coronary microvascular dysfunction. The study seeks to measure the relationship between cardiac work and myocardial blood flow, evaluate cardiac function and myocardial ischemia, which occurs when blood flow to heart muscle is decreased by a blockage of coronary arteries. Findings may lead to potential therapies for diabetic cardiomyopathy. The study is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Scientists are investigating combination drug therapies to prevent and treat age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Current treatment options for presbycusis are mostly limited to hearing aids, which only a fraction of older adults receive and often fail to clarify speech. There are no effective medications to prevent NIHL. With grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, researchers are testing a combination of FDA approved drugs to mitigate or prevent these forms of hearing loss.
Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute
Researchers found a therapy to target the most common genetic cause of cystic fibrosis to improve lung function and lower the rate of pulmonary exacerbations. Findings from a Phase III clinical trial suggest that combined drug therapy may be safe and effective for patients with a specific gene mutation. The study was supported in part by an NIH grant. Results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
An NIH-funded study tested the hypothesis that infantile hemangiomas (IH), cutaneous tumors that often lead to permanent disfigurement, impact the social behavior of the child and parents. Researchers sought to develop and validate an Infantile Hemangioma Quality-of-Life instrument to measure the quality of life in young patients and their parents. The study results were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
NIH and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs supported a study on mechanisms regulating inflammatory diseases. Researchers identified transcription factors as important regulators of the expression of the gene that is responsible for reducing inflammation and improving prognosis. Understanding this mechanism may lead to therapeutic approaches for inflammatory diseases including sepsis, lung injury, and colitis. Findings were published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
Washington University, St. Louis
The National Institute on Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) supported research on Wolfram syndrome, a rare and severe form of diabetes. Wolfram syndrome is caused by cell death, which occurs when harmful molecules spill into a part of the cell where they don’t belong. Scientists have identified a gatekeeper molecule that may prevent the cell death, which could be a potential treatment target for not only diabetes, but also for heart problems, Parkinson’s disease and other disorders caused by the same type of cell death.
Researchers have developed a nanoparticle-based therapy for treating multiple myeloma, a cancer of immune cells in the bone marrow. The nanoparticles protect the drugs from degradation in the bloodstream and enhance its delivery to malignant cells, solving a longtime obstacle in the development of this type of cancer drug. The studies are supported by the U.S. Department of Defense and NIH, and the findings were published online in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapy.
NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a study to investigate the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Results show that elevated glucose level in the blood can rapidly increase the levels of amyloid beta, a key component of brain plaques in Alzheimer’s patients. This link may lead to future treatment targets to reduce effects of blood sugar levels on brain function. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
University of California, San Francisco
NIH supported a study on the role and level of a regulator protein in the cellular process in suppressing tumor growth. Scientists found that the protein that was considered crucial for the development and function of the body can be reduced by half in mice with no apparent ill effects, and that the full complement can fuel tumor growth. The findings suggest that targeted cancer drugs could suppress tumor growth without affecting healthy cells by lowering the levels of the protein. Results were published in the online issue of the journal Cell.
An NIH grant supported a study on adult neural stem cells. The findings have changed the way scientists think about stem cells and suggest that rather than being continually self-renewing, the adult neural stem cells develop early and stay in place until they are reactivated. The results were published in the journal Cell.
Scientists have found a way to identify genetic risk for prostate cancer through a simple blood or urine test. Through a collaboration between UCSF and Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health (RPGEH), the project is one of the largest to examine genetic samples and health records of more than 100,000 volunteers. This study was supported by a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The results show potential for more precise diagnosis of prostate cancer.