Med School scientist receives American Heart Association grant for research study

Mingui Fu, Ph.D.

The American Heart Association has awarded a $154,000 grant to UMKC School of Medicine scientist Mingui Fu, Ph.D., to conduct a two-pronged study that could lead to the development of novel therapies for vascular inflammatory diseases.

An associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Science, Fu has been studying the molecular process that leads to atherosclerosis, a thickening of the artery walls created by the buildup of plaque. Atherosclerosis is a common underlying issue surrounding cardiovascular disease and stroke.

While some therapies have proven beneficial, there are currently no available treatments to reduce the early steps that lead to the formation of these abnormal arterial masses.

Fu’s new study will explore at a molecular level the process by which a particular protein, TRIM65, has been found to target those molecules responsible for regulating inflammation, antivirus and cancers. The research also seeks to determine how the loss of the TRIM65 protein affects the adhesion of those abnormal fatty cells to arterial walls to produce atherosclerosis.

If successful, Fu’s study will define a regulatory pathway of endothelial activation and provide insights for developing new therapies for vascular inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Recently, Fu and his research lab at the School of Medicine published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports that revealed the discovery of a novel secreted protein in body fat tissue that displayed a potent anti-inflammatory role in immune cells and vascular endothelial cells. In addition, he also has published a review article in Nature Reviews Immunology about RNA-binding proteins in immune regulation.

According to a 2017 report by the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the worldwide leading cause of death and is an underlying factor in nearly one-third of all deaths in the United States.