Clemson Heart Research Receives $4.1 Million Boost On Valentine’s Day
Feb 18, 2019 11:08AM
● By Kathleen Maris
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and romance, but the holiday has also become an opportunity to promote heart health, a tradition that continues as Clemson University bioengineers announce the launch of two separate research projects.
Will Richardson and Naren Vyavahare said that they have each received grants from the National Institutes of Health for new research related to the heart. The two grants combined represent $4.1 million in new research funding in Clemson’s Department of Bioengineering.
The research they are conducting has the potential to affect millions of patients who suffer from many forms of cardiovascular disease and related illness, including heart failure, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Richardson, an assistant professor of bioengineering, is creating computer models aimed at providing better treatment for cardiac fibrosis, a condition that contributes to heart failure. As many as 60 percent of patients die within five years of developing heart failure, which afflicts 6.5 million Americans, Richardson said.
No drugs have been approved to treat cardiac fibrosis specifically, and doctors are often left with trial-and-error experimentation when treating patients who have it, he said.
Richardson envisions a day when measurements from a patient’s blood or tissue sample would be plugged into mathematical equations based on how molecules interact in the body. Overnight, patients would have personalized risk assessments and treatments plans, he said.
You can read more about Richardson’s work at bit.ly/RichardsonNIH.
Vyavahare, the Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering, is working on what could be the first treatment to reverse vascular calcification, a condition that occurs when mineral deposits build up on blood vessel walls and stiffen them. It is most prevalent in aging patients and those with chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, Vyavahare said.
Complications from vascular calcification can range from hypertension to death.
The nanoparticles that Vyavahare is developing are many times smaller than the width of a human hair and would deliver two medicines to calcified blood vessels. One medicine would remove the mineral deposits that cause blood vessels to become calcified, and another would return elasticity to the blood vessels.
You can read more about Vyavahare’s work at bit.ly/VyavahareNIH.
The Richardson and Vyavahare projects were both funded through the National Institutes of Health’s R01 program. Richardson is receiving $1.9 million, and Vyavahare is receiving $2.2 million.