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NIH awards Georgia Tech/Emory $11.5 M for nano cardiology research

Despite the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, there is a lack of understanding of the fundamental molecular biology behind the disease and how certain genetic factors contribute to plaque build-up in blood vessels.

But biomedical nanotechnology might help shed light on the molecular mechanisms responsible for one of the U.S.'s deadliest diseases.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University $11.5 million to establish a new research program focused on creating advanced nanotechnologies to analyze plaque formation on the molecular level and detect plaque at its early stages. Plaques containing cholesterol and lipids may build up during the life of blood vessels. When these plaques become unstable and rupture they can block the vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke.

The multi-disciplinary program, part of NHLBI's Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology (PEN), is headed by Dr. Gang Bao, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. The program includes 12 faculty investigators from both institutions and will be based at Emory. It is one of four national PEN awards. The initiative is in accord with the NIH Roadmap's strategy to accelerate progress in medical research through innovative technology and interdisciplinary research.

The program's work will focus primarily on detecting plaque and pinpointing its genetic causes with three types of nanostructured probes molecular beacons, semiconductor quantum dots and magnetic nanoparticles.

Healthy, undamaged cells lining the vessel wall do not attract platelets or cause a build-up of plaque. But in a diseased blood vessel, cells lining the vessel wall may have certain cellular and molecular characteristics that make them stickier, caus
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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@icpa.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology
2-May-2005


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