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Malgor receives NIH grant

Ramiro Malgor, M.D.

$221,250 for “Understanding WNT-5A and TLR-4
cross-signaling during atherosclerosis”

By Anita Martin

April 8, 2009 

Ramiro Malgor, M.D., assistant professor of biological sciences, is the principal investigator on a new, two-year $221,250 grant from the National Institutes of Health for the project, “Understanding WNT-5A and TLR-4 cross-signaling during atherosclerosis.”

The research will test a hypothesis that WNT-5A, a protein first noticed in the development of embryos and later linked to cancer development, plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis. Malgor’s team, which includes Kelly McCall, Ph.D., assistant professor of specialty medicine, and Doug Goetz, Ph.D., professor of biomolecular engineering, was the first to notice the presence of WNT-5A in atherosclerosis.   

Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol particles in the bloodstream become absorbed into the inner lining of blood vessels, creating fatty lesions that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Malgor and his team hypothesize that these cholesterol particles activate the toll-like receptor TLR-4, a signaling pathway that, in turn, elicits the presence of WNT-5A. The WNT-5A protein may help trigger inflammation within the blood vessels, worsening atherosclerosis and increasing the related risks of cardiovascular disease, the main cause of death in the United States, Europe and Asia. 

The research group is working with atherosclerotic lesions taken from both mice and humans to confirm the presence of WNT-5A and determine whether it plays a role in this disease process.

“In our project, we hope to better understand the mechanism of how atherosclerosis develops, which will help develop better therapeutic strategies to intervene,” Malgor says.


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