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Researcher to Create New Tests to Identify Bleeding Disorder

Oct. 7, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to improve the diagnostic tools for Von Willebrand Disease, a commonly diagnosed bleeding disorder that is overdiagnosed in some populations, yet underdiagnosed in others.

Robert R. Montgomery, MD, professor of pediatrics (hematology) and an investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute; and Thomas C. Abshire, MD, professor of pediatrics and medicine, senior investigator at the Blood Research Institute at BloodCenter of Wisconsin, and an investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute, are the primary investigators of the grant. Both Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Abshire see patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is a bleeding disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot. A protein called von Willebrand factor is responsible for clotting; in VWD, patients either have low levels of the protein, or the protein doesn’t work well.

In some groups, particularly women with heavy menstrual bleeding, VWD is underdiagnosed. However, it may be overdiagnosed in the general population.

In this project, which is a collaborative effort between MCW, Children’s Hospital, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, the research team will evaluate the tools currently used to diagnose VWD for their effectiveness in identifying the disease. The results will be used to develop new screening tests, including tests that will identify the different types of VWD (up to 20% of individuals with VWD have a variant of the disease). Additionally, quantitative bleeding scores will be evaluated for their effectiveness at predicting bleeding risk.

Ultimately, this project is focused on improving the fidelity, clinical utility, and comparative effectiveness of VWD diagnosis in subjects being evaluated for a clinical bleeding disorder.

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