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Medical College and BloodCenter Researchers to Study Causes of Drug-Induced Platelet Loss

Sept. 26, 2012

Scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Blood Research Institute received a one-year, $20,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study the causes and prevention of a condition caused by the use of blood thinning medication.

Anand Padmanabhan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at MCW and associate investigator at the Blood Research Institute of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, is the primary investigator of the grant. Co-primary investigators are Daniel Bougie, Ph.D. and Brian Curtis, Ph.D., Blood Research Institute; Janice McFarland, M.D., Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin; and Richard Aster, M.D., MCW and the Blood Research Institute of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients receiving the blood-thinning medication heparin, and failure to diagnose this condition correctly can be catastrophic. Therefore, timely and accurate diagnosis is critical. Antibodies specific for complexes of heparin and platelet factor 4 are a hallmark of HIT, but there is little understanding of how those antibodies trigger thrombosis, and current practice recommends screening for only one specific class of antibody. In this project, the researchers will define the role of other antibodies believed to play a role in HIT, and to improve laboratory diagnosis and management of this condition.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major future research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from the National Institutes of Health, the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award, and both MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin program, and MCW’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center.

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