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Case Western Reserve awarded $4.7 million from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

CLEVELAND July 30, 2010 Jonathan Stamler, MD, Director of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine and the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation at the Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Harrington-McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute, has recently received a $4.7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to fund the development of a new class of drugs that will selectively dilate blood cells under hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the body's tissues) and thereby enhance soldiers' performance at high altitude.

"Our blood carries less oxygen at high altitudes," said Dr. Stamler. "And there is not much we can do about it. But if we could improve blood flow in tissues we could deliver more oxygen regardless of how much oxygen the blood carries."

Development of any method to enhance tissue oxygenation at high altitudes must consider the distinction between blood O2 content (how much oxygen the blood carries) and red blood cell (RBC) O2 delivery (primarily a function of blood flow). Oxygen delivery is controlled by a gas called nitric oxide, which is released from RBCs under hypoxia. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and thereby improves blood flow.

It's anticipated that the grant will generate new physiologic information on high-altitude adaption and new therapeutic interventions to treat patients suffering from conditions where oxygen delivery is impaired, including heart failure, ischemic heart disease, stroke, sickle cell disease and diabetes.

The study will involve a transdisciplinary team including the department of anesthesia, the division of pulmonary medicine, and the Harrington-McLaughlin Cardiovascular Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine's primary clinical affiliate.


Contact: Christina DeAngelis
Case Western Reserve University

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