Public Release: 

NIH grant supports research seeking heart disease treatment for kidney disease patients

New York Institute of Technology

Old Westbury, NY; November 8, 2018--Researchers at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) have secured a grant for $391,041 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that may allow for improved understanding of vascular calcification and prevent heart disease in chronic kidney disease patients.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in patients with chronic kidney disease. With decreasing kidney function, increased vascular calcification (the accumulation of calcium salts in the tissue of blood vessels) causes arteries to lose elasticity. To propose a therapy that improves survival in chronic kidney disease patients, the NYIT research team, led by Olga V. Savinova, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical sciences, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), will investigate the process of molecular calcification.

Biomedical researchers commonly accept that the enzyme phosphatase is responsible for increased calcification; this has been linked to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of blood vessels. It is believed that when the gene for phosphatase, known as tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP), is overactive, the surplus enzyme produced causes arterial calcification. While no standardized treatment exists for vascular calcification, according to Savinova, this new study aims to validate these theories and suggest new therapies for heart disease.

"We anticipate our findings will support a new therapy for vascular calcification, a compound known as SBI-425, which robustly inhibits the TNAP enzyme," said Savinova. "Our long-term goal is to validate the effect of TNAP inhibition and set the stage for testing this compound as a viable pharmacological approach for chronic kidney disease."

The one-year study will examine calcification in both human cadavers and mice. In addition to observing evidence of calcification in human coronary arteries, the researchers aim to determine the mechanism by which TNAP overexpression in mice leads to arterial calcification. The latter aim is expected to lead researchers to test the pharmacological potential of TNAP inhibition in future clinical trials.

In addition to faculty members and medical students from NYITCOM, the cross-disciplinary research team includes an expert from NYIT's College of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Dorinamaria Carka, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, along with an undergraduate engineering student, will perform computer simulations of blood flow dynamics in response to increased calcification. Other investigators include Maria Carrillo Sepulveda, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical sciences at NYITCOM, and Maria Plummer, M.D., pathologist and associate professor of clinical specialties, NYITCOM.

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The grant reported in this publication was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R56HL131547. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information about NYIT, visit nyit.edu.

About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs in more than 50 fields of study, including computer science, data, and cybersecurity; biology and biomedical studies; architecture and design; engineering; health professions and medicine; IT and digital technologies; management; communications and marketing; education and counseling; and energy and sustainability. A nonprofit, independent, private, and nonsectarian institute of higher education, NYIT welcomes more than 9,000 students worldwide. The university has campuses in New York City (Manhattan) and Long Island (Old Westbury), New York; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as programs around the world.

NYIT embraces its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, give all qualified students access to opportunity, and support research and scholarship that benefit the larger world. More than 100,000 NYIT alumni comprise an engaged network of doers, makers, and innovators prepared change the world, solve 21st-century challenges, and reinvent the future. For more information, visit nyit.edu.

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Kim Tucker
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Kimberly.tucker@nyit.edu

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