News | July 16, 2012

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Receive $4.78 Million Grant to Discover Novel Pathways Contributing to Heart Disease

Study builds on research team's prior work linking gut flora to heart disease

July 16, 2012 — The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has awarded a $4.78 million grant to researchers at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute to use metabolomics — a new approach that focuses on the small-molecule byproducts of metabolism —  for discovery of novel pathways linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

“Despite the identification of numerous genetic and clinical risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we can still only explain in a small fraction of patients why that individual develops the disease; this means many novel pathways contributing to the disease still remain unexplored,” said Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair of theLerner Research Institute and section head of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation in the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute.

Hazen is co-principal investigator on the study with W.H. Wilson Tang, M.D., director of the Cardiomyopathy Program at Cleveland Clinic, and research director of the Section of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Medicine in the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute.

With the NHLBI grant,  Hazen and his colleagues will extend their research by further analyzing the thousands of metabolites in blood, including many that are formed by gut flora, in order to discover pathways linked to causing heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. They also propose to manipulate the bacteria in humans, testing whether specific probiotics can play a role in treatment of cardiovascular disease. The research can thus ultimately lead to new treatments, including diets and drugs, for cardiovascular disease as well as improved diagnostics and prevention.

Cleveland Clinic’s grant (NHLBI grant number: 1P20HL113452-01) is part of a series awarded by the National Institutes of Health to study the abnormal metabolism of cardiovascular and lung diseases. In addition to Hazen and Tang, the research team includes co-investigator Zeneng Wang, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic; Oliver Fiehn, M.D., of the University of California, Davis; and David Lefer, Ph.D., of Emory University.

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