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Professor Awarded NIH Grant

Dec 30, 2008
Dr. Mark Olah, assistant professor of pharmacology at the Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) to help in the development of drugs that promote or inhibit growth of blood vessels. These drugs may be useful in treating heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.

Olah will examine the proteins and cell signaling processes involved in promoting endothelial cell growth and migration with a focus on the intracellular protein known as Epac1. His primary research will concentrate on angiogenesis, which is the development or extension of new blood vessels from those that already exist. The growth and ordered assembly of endothelial cells is a key early event in angiogenesis.

"Very little is known about the function of Epac1 in promoting blood vessel development, and this research could identify new targets for clinical regulation of angiogenesis," Olah said.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences funded the $150,000 grant for the research project titled "Epac1 Signaling in Angiogenesis."

Understanding the mechanisms responsible for endothelial cell growth and migration may lead to the development of drugs that promote the growth of blood vessels and may be beneficial in heart disease. Conversely, inhibition of angiogenesis is used in the treatment of cancer, as tumors need blood vessels to expand. The FDA has recently approved drugs that disturb blood vessel growth for the treatment of colon, kidney and other cancers.