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Silvio Antoniak, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Member of the McAllister Heart Institute, has been awarded a $1.9-million, five-year grant from the NIH-NHLBI to investigate the potential therapeutic approach in inhibiting the coagulation factor Xa or PAR2 in viral myocarditis and H1N1 influenza A virus infection.

The project investigates the contribution of the blood coagulation factor Xa and its receptor, protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) to the pathology of virus infections by inhibiting innate antiviral immune responses. Dr. Antoniak showed in collaboration with Dr. U. Rauch (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany) and Dr. N. Mackman (UNC Chapel Hill) that PAR2 reduced innate immune responses to Coxsackievirus B3 infection causing a more pronounced viral myocarditis. Furthermore, Dr. Antoniak found that PAR2 and its activator FXa contribute to the pathology of H1N1 influenza A virus infection. The Antoniak lab will use two well-described infection models with Coxsackievirus B3 myocarditis and H1N1 influenza A virus pneumonia to investigate mechanism by which factor Xa and PAR2 enhances virus infections. More importantly, inhibition of the factor Xa-PAR2 pathway might improve antiviral responses.