NYU Langone Medical Center Receives Five-Year $7.4 Million Grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for Diabetes Research

Diabetes Projected to Reach Epidemic Proportions World-Wide in the Next 20 Years

November 18, 2011 - 11:06am


NYU Langone Medical Center announced today Ann Marie Schmidt, MD, the Dr. Iven Young Professor of Endocrinology and professor of medicine, pathology and pharmacology, Shi Fang Yan, MD, associate professor of pharmacology and medicine, and Ravichandran (Ravi) Ramasamy, PhD, associate professor of medicine and pharmacology, received a five-year, $7.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support their research on improving long-term outcomes of cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes.
Entitled “RAGE and Mechanisms of Vascular Dysfunction,” this research focuses on the dissection of the molecular mechanisms of RAGE and novel areas for therapeutic intervention.  Dr. Schmidt and her colleagues previously found that RAGE, or the receptor for AGE that causes pro-inflammatory gene activation, contributes to the cause and severity of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attacks in diabetic patients. AGEs, or advanced glycation endproducts, are sugar modified molecules that accumulate in diabetes and when bonded with their receptor RAGE, generates inflammation and blood clotting molecules that cause vascular damage. Diabetes is a vicious cycle because high blood sugar produces more AGEs, which stimulate the body’s cells to produce more RAGE. Without a way to turn this cycle off, the damaging inflammatory response continues. While atherosclerosis and heart attacks cause tissue damage in populations that are the same age and have equal blood pressure levels, diabetics with higher expression of the RAGE molecule are more vulnerable to blood vessel damage because of the highly inflammatory nature of diabetes.
“We have a long tradition of pioneering research for serious diseases affecting public health,” said Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, senior vice president and vice dean for science, chief scientific officer at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Our researchers are leading the fight in addressing complications caused by diabetes with the promise of new treatments, bringing hope to a growing population impacted by this disease.  We commend Dr. Schmidt and her team for the important work they are doing.”
Key findings from this research may result in new methods of blocking the progression of these conditions or reversing their damage. Previous research conducted by Dr. Schmidt has already shown that giving mice a RAGE inhibitor or genetically deleting the animals’ RAGE receptor protected them from diabetic complications. Post-treatment, the animals were healthy, lived an average life span and reproduced normally. 
“Cardiovascular disease greatly affects the quality of life and life span of individuals with diabetes, and our research on RAGE has the potential to improve the long-term outcomes of those patients who experience atherosclerosis or a heart attack,” said Dr. Schmidt. “We are very excited to receive these funds to continue the work we’re doing and would like to thank the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for their support.”
Dr. Schmidt and her colleagues have studied RAGE together for more than 15 years. The project described is supported by Award Number P01HL060901 from the National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. 
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Deborah (DJ) Sabalusky