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William Fay, MD, J.W. and Lois Winifred Stafford Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Research, has been awarded an $815,625 grant from the Missouri Life Sciences Research Board for his study of cardiac catheterization.



State Awards Research Grant to Reduce Complications of Cardiac Treatment


Fay's research team works to prevent artery re-narrowing, enable artery repair


Missouri ranks eighth in the nation in residents' incidence of cardiovascular disease, and recently the state dedicated significant funding to research aimed at preventing the most serious complications accompanying treatment.

In 2008, the Missouri Life Sciences Research Board awarded $13.1 million in research and commercialization grants to 14 research projects. William Fay, MD, J.W. and Lois Winifred Stafford Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Research, leads one of six MU teams to receive funding from the state's research trust fund, in the amount of $815,625.

Fay, a professor of internal medicine, pharmacology and medical physiology and director of cardiovascular medicine, said the state's investment enables collaborating researchers at the School of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine to take their hypothesis to the next level by testing it in a pig model, whose cardiac anatomy is very similar to a human's. He will closely collaborate with Douglas Bowles, PhD, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the veterinary school, to use the resources available at MU's National Swine Resource and Research Center.

"Developing new strategies to treat coronary disease will be beneficial to the citizens of Missouri," Fay said. "I think that our multidisciplinary team is very well-positioned to have some spinoff element that will have financial implications with obviously the long-term goal of providing patients with better treatment."

During cardiac catheterization, a flexible tube, or catheter, is threaded through an artery. If a blockage is detected, doctors clear it and place a drug eluting stent – a tubular wire mesh scaffold coated with drugs to improve blood flow and prevent re-narrowing of the artery. Unfortunately, in recent years, researchers have noted an unwanted side effect of the drug coating.

"Drug eluting stents are very good, but it's hard to develop a perfect treatment and one of their limitations is there can be a problem with clotting later on," Fay said. "They inhibit the artery-clogging smooth muscle cells from growing in, but they also inhibit the normal repair of cells in the artery lining."

Fay's team will focus on new strategies to prevent the re-narrowing of the arteries while ensuring normal, healthy cell repair in the artery lining. In particular, his multidisciplinary team will test a mutant protein compound that preliminary studies show could delay plaque re-formation without promoting clotting.

The Life Sciences Research Board weighted funding proposals based on their scientific merits and their abilities to use funding to provide statewide economic return, as well as their alignment with state priorities.

"This has been a highly-competitive process," said Roger Mitchell, PhD, the board's chair. "These newly-awarded grants will leverage substantial additional investment in Missouri."

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