ST. LOUIS -- Alireza "Ray" Rezaie, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, has received a $1.52 million NIH grant to study how the key blood clotting inhibitor antithrombin might be exploited to prevent premature death from heart disease.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute awarded the four-year grant, which will allow Rezaie to continue studying how to maintain the delicate balance between the life-preserving and life-threatening activity of blood clotting.
"Blood clotting factors must be turned on and off at exactly the right time so a person does not bleed to death or die of an episode such as a heart attack, which is triggered by a blood clot," said Rezaie, who has engineered molecules that impose equilibrium on the delicate system.
Rezaie recently discovered that antithrombin, which is a molecule produced by the liver that turns off several proteins in the coagulation system, can block inflammation in the blood vessel wall. This inflammation can lead to heart disease as well as a violent, life-threatening reaction to blood infections called acute sepsis.
Rezaie is working on harnessing the anti-inflammatory activity of antithrombin to reduce the incidence and severity of heart disease and to save the lives of those who suffer from acute sepsis. He has studied the control of blood clotting factors for 23 years.
Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the body's organs and tissues as well as the ordnance of immunityantibodies and white blood cellsthat defend organs and tissues from infection. Given these critical functions, it is essential that bodies preserve blood against loss from bleeding injuries.
Imbedded in blood is the chemistry to stop bleeding before too much blood is lost. Whenever small cuts or bruises occur, the blood at the site of injury rapidly mobilizes clotting factors that build a plug at the breech in the bloo
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Saint Louis University