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Rice's Grande-Allen wins AHA Established Investigator Award
Date:1/5/2012

les in heart-valve ECM. For example, biochemists know that both of these often act as master organizers of ECM. However, there's little understanding of the specific types of PG and GAG that are most important for healthy heart valves.

Characterizing the specific PGs and GAGs within heart valves is the first goal of her project. She said it will not be easy because there are no systematic techniques for mapping the structure of PGs or GAGs. Instead, Grande-Allen's team will use a variety of genetic and biochemical techniques to try to tease out that information.

Once the researchers have identified target genes that regulate the PG and GAG structure, they'll enter the second phase of the project and try to manipulate those genes to see if they can grow valvular ECM in the lab that rivals what the body produces on its own.

"We want to transform valve biology into a more mature scientific field," she said. "There's an urgent clinical need for living, healing heart-valve replacements, especially for children, who currently need to undergo surgery every few years as they outgrow their replacement valves."

Grande-Allen said a better basic understanding of the biology of heart-valve tissue could also lead to novel therapies that could prevent or cure valve disease without surgery.


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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