UNC scientists to study potential predictor of dangerous condition in cancer patients

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 — Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have received a grant of almost $2 million to investigate a potential early-warning indicator of venous thromboembolism, a leading cause of disability and death in cancer patients.

The five-year grant is funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

In the condition, clots initially form in deep veins of the legs but can break loose and travel to the lungs. Anti-cancer drugs can increase the risk of venous thromboembolism, because they increase the release of a clotting protein from the tumor and blood vessels into the circulatory system.

However, the mechanisms of the condition in cancer patients are largely unknown. The study, involving laboratory and clinical research, will determine if levels of this clotting protein can be used as a biomarker of a pre-thrombotic state in patients with pancreatic or colon cancer.

The grant’s principal investigators are Nigel Key, M.D., Harold Roberts Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and Nigel Mackman, Ph.D., John C. Parker Distinguished Professor of Medicine. Both are members of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Participating study institutions are UNC, East Carolina University and Rex Hospital.

Note: Key can be reached at nkey@email.unc.edu or (919) 966-3311. Mackman can be contacted at nigel_mackman@med.unc.edu or (919) 843-3961.

UNC Lineberger contact: Dianne Shaw, (919) 966-5905, dgs@med.unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu

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