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GW and Peking University awarded funding to understand common blood coagulation disorder

WASHINGTON -- The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and The Peking University Medical College in Beijing, China are pleased to announce the award of significant funding for an international co-operative project to understand the molecular mechanisms of a very common blood coagulation disorder affecting both Americans and Chinese.

Research and medical teams from GW and Peking University Medical College will work together to apply the most sophisticated next-generation DNA/RNA sequencing to the problem of aspirin-insensitive thrombophilia. While aspirin is the most commonly used preventative therapy for heart disease, a certain fraction of subjects do not benefit from treatment, sometimes called aspirin resistance (AR).

In prior studies, GW scientists Drs. Tim McCaffrey, Sidney Fu, and Ian Toma in the Division of Genomic Medicine, worked closely with GW physicians Drs. Richard Katz, Jonathon Reiner, and Ramesh Mazhari, to identify RNA transcripts in blood that might help to explain this dangerous disease. It was known that patients with AR are up to 10 times more likely to have a heart attack than patients who respond normally to aspirin. That danger could be further increased when the patients undergo coronary stenting, which places a polymer coated wire mesh into the coronary arteries.

"This is a very important study that will improve the safety of many patients. By studying patients with AR, doctors will eventually be able identify a different course of treatment or prevention to be used for those with the disease," said McCaffrey, Ph.D., director of the Division of Genomic Medicine at SMHS.

Using sophisticated genomic microarrays, the GW team identified an interesting pattern of gene expression that suggested the coagulation disorder could be due to some type of autoimmune disease, in which the patient's own antibodies are attacking their blood platelets.

The GW team will work with physicians and scientists at Peking University, headed by Dr. Meilin Liu, a prominent cardiologist in the Department of Geriatrics of Peking University First Hospital, and an expert on cardiovascular complications in the elderly. In previous studies, a cardiovascular disease database has been initially established, which mainly collects the clinical information in the aging population. A proportion of patients exhibit insensitivity to long-term use of aspirin, giving them a higher risk of vascular events and stent restenosis, often requiring a second coronary angiogram.

Together, the U.S.-China teams will identify patients with AR and then analyze the mRNA expression patterns in blood using the most sophisticated RNA sequencing techniques available, providing a 'high resolution' view of the disease at the RNA level. The collaboration will take this research into the next phase of validating the RNA transcripts in a larger group of patients and analyzing additional medical parameters to help understand and diagnosis this dangerous condition.

Contact: Lisa Anderson
George Washington University

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