Craig A. Emter, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences, received $1,281,479 from the Department of Defense to determine if RSK3-mAKAP signaling, a signal transduction network that is involved in cardiac remodeling, is efficacious as a treatment for cardiovascular disease that results in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Dr. Emter also received $1,738,999 funding from Regencor Inc to test the efficacy of EpicaPatch. The EpicaPatch contains follistatin-like protein 1, a protein known to stimulate regeneration following myocardial infarction and is applied to damaged heart tissue. The benefits of this therapy, if successful, are the addition of regenerative capacity to current revascularization procedures, therefore protecting diabetic patients from heart failure.
Christian Lorson, PhD, Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology, received $413,050 from NIH to identify survival motor neuron-independent modifiers of disease as a means to identify functional and druggable targets for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). SMA is an autosomal recessive disorder that is the leading genetic cause of infantile death. The gene responsible for SMA is called survival motor neuron-1 (SMN1). While increasing SMN levels may be sufficient for many forms of SMA, an effective treatment regimen for the breadth of the clinical SMA spectrum may require a combinatorial approach that includes “SMN-independent” approaches to address the complexity of the disease. A second award from the Department of Defense will provide $790,000 for a CDMRP project to perform experiments to move an experimental compound towards the clinic. The results will provide the basis for an Investigational New Drug application to the FDA. Dr. Lorson will serve as PI for the portion of the project conducted at the Mizzou company, Shift Pharmaceuticals, and Dr. Erkan Osman will serve as PI for the work done at MU.
Rajiv R. Mohan, MS, PhD, FARVO, Professor of Ophthalmology, received $425,425 from NIH to delineate molecular and cellular mechanisms of acrolein toxicity. Acrolein is a vital precursor for variety of commercial goods, but also poses a threat as a chemical weapon that could be used by the terrorists. At present, there are no countermeasures available to prevent, impede or arrest acrolein poisoning.
Kun-eek Kil, PhD, Assistant Research Professor of Radiochemistry and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry received $200,000 from the American Heart Association to develop two radiotracers based on chemokine receptor 3, which is highly expressed on proinflammatory T cells and macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions. The radiotracers are expected to bind to proinflammatory cell-laden atherosclerotic plaques and its quantification will indicate the early development of atherosclerosis and progression to advanced plaque. The potential achievements can be directly translated to clinical applications and also benefit vascular research by providing versatile tools for noninvasive longitudinal assessment of the inflammatory response during the plaque development.
Carol R. Reinero, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM), Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine, received $25,000 funding from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine to support a postdoctoral fellowship for Dr. Aida Vientós-Plotts. The goal of this fellowship is to provide training that will allow the fellow to establish herself as a clinician scientist and transition to an independent research program focused on clinically relevant disorders of importance to veterinarians. The fellowship will integrate a strong background of respiratory clinical medicine with a translational research focus on the respiratory microbiome. Dr. Reinero also received an additional $50,000 funding from Merial to support the development of skills of a postgraduate veterinarian in the Department of Veterinary Medicine.
Cheryl Heesch, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, received $30,000 funding from Tulane University to determine the effects of receptor activation in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). The RVLM is the brain area responsible for control of cardiovascular function and is associated with heart failure and hypertension. Dr. Heesch will will conduct simultaneous recordings of renal sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure.
Angela L. McCleary-Wheeler, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Assistant Professor of Oncology, received funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation to characterize the function and role of an enzyme that modifies histones, EZH2, in canine B-cell lymphoma. The research team will utilize a highly specific EZH2 inhibitor to study the biological significance of EZH2 in canine lymphoma cells. They will also evaluate the collection of genes that are regulated by EZH2 in canine B-cell lymphoma to further characterize EZH2. The information obtained from this study will help guide the future development of this targeted inhibitor for use as a novel therapy to treat naturally-occurring canine lymphoma.
Brenda T. Beerntsen, PhD, Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology, received funding from the University of California – San Francisco to rear female mosquitoes and infect them via exposure to Brugia microfilariae contained in a membrane feeder. The third- stage larvae will be used for subsequent drug testing at UCSF. Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic tropical disease that is a leading cause of permanent disability worldwide.
Gary S. Johnson, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology received funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation to identify the molecular genetic cause for cystinuria in Irish Terriers, a disorder that affects a dog’s ability to filter cysteine out of urine. The research group will generate whole genome sequences from two affected Irish Terriers and look for rare variants that are in both affected dogs. Cystine is insoluble in canine urine and can form stones which can cause inflammation and blockage.