Virginia Tech Scientists Study 'Killer' Molecules

BLACKSBURG, VA, April 17, 1998 -- Drs. Mitzi Nagarkatti and Prakash Nagarkatti of Virginia Tech have been awarded a three-year $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the nature of endothelial cell injury.

Endothelial cells, which line the surfaces of vessels, are often damaged by immune cells which flock to sites of inflammation associated with infections, autoimmune disorders, and transplant rejections.

With funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the researchers will examine the role of ?killer? molecules such as tumor necrosis factor, Fas lagand and perforin in vascular damage induced by immune cells. The work will be conducted using gene-knockout technology, a process in which one or more genes are deleted in laboratory animals.

The researchers will also use fusion proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and other approaches in an effort to discover ways to reduce the cellular injury by preventing lymphocyte-endothelial cell interaction.

Prakash Nagarkatti is a professor in the Department of Biology.

Mitzi Nagarkatti is an associate professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine?s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. She has been awarded $3.3 million in research funding since joining Virginia Tech in 1986. She is currently conducting research on cancer immunology and immunotoxicology as a recipient of an Independent Scientist Award from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant has been awarded to the Nagarkattis following the recent publication of papers, discussing work in their laboratories, that were published in the American Society of Hematology?s journal, Blood.

Contact for further information:

Mitzi Nagarkatti
+1 540-231-5035
Prakash S. Nagarkatt

Contact: Jeff Douglas
Virginia Tech

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