Novel and pioneering research offers hope for cardiovascular disease

Australian research is increasing our understanding of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of premature death in Australia,1 following the identification of key 'master regulator' genes (such as EGR-1) by Professor Levon Khachigian which control the thickening of arteries after balloon angioplasty.

In recognition of his ground-breaking research, Professor Khachigian, from the University of New South Wales, was last night awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Australia Award for Research Excellence.

"Two million people every year need to undergo an angioplasty, a procedure that relieves narrowing and obstruction of clogged arteries by inflating a small balloon at the site of the blockage. Although the procedure is very effective, in many cases the arteries re-narrow within a few months," said Professor Khachigian at the GlaxoSmithKline Awards Dinner attended by around 300 of Australia's top medical researchers.

Levon Khachigian's discovery that within minutes of an angioplasty, key transcription factors like EGR-1 awaken in blood vessels from their usually dormant state, led him to study its role in triggering artery re-narrowing. "I realised very quickly that if we could control EGR-1 then we could slow down or stop the process of narrowing of the arteries," said Prof Khachigian.

The GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence is awarded annually in recognition of distinguished discoveries in scientific and medical research which could lead to significant benefits to human health.

Commenting on the Award, Mr Paul Lirette, Managing Director, GlaxoSmithKline Australia, said the company is committed to supporting innovation, research and development for the wellbeing and economic benefit of all Australians.

GlaxoSmithKline invested $32 million in research and development in Australia in 2005 and is in the Top 10 R&D companies in Australia.

"Developing Australia's knowledge base and supporting scientists like Profess

Contact: Bernadette Basell
Research Australia

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