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Researcher receives grant to combat problems caused by diabetes

NDSU researchers have been awarded a $1.3 million National Institutes of Health R01 research grant to combat the negative impact of diabetes on blood vessels.

Yagna Jarajapu, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is the principal investigator for the project titled, “Targeting Mas Receptor for Diabetic Vascular Disease in Older Adults.”

“This grant will help find solutions to the devastating complications associated with diabetes, especially in the elderly, where it can cause severe irreversible damage to organs and tissues,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the NDSU College of Health Professions. “The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences now has seven active NIH R01 grants that are extremely difficult to obtain, highly competitive and only awarded to top scientists in their respective disciplines. This reflects the high quality of the researchers and research being conducted at NDSU and in the College of Health Professions as some of the best in the United States.”

According to Jarajapu, aging causes detrimental effects on blood vessel function, and aging-with-diabetes worsens the impact. The result is increased risk for life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease or nephropathy. The researchers will test beneficial effects of a molecule that activates a Mas receptor in stem or progenitor cells and the circulatory system.

By using animal models of diabetes and stem cells from diabetic individuals, Jarajapu’s group will test the approach in reversing or preventing diabetic vascular disease. If successful, the study will provide a promising pharmacological strategy for enhancing the reparative functions of stem cells in diabetic individuals and for accelerating the repair of blood vessels.

“I am thankful for the research support from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences to start an independent laboratory at NDSU and for the support received from the Center for Protease Research,” Jarajapu said. “I received a scientist development grant from American Heart Association in 2013, which helped generating novel findings that provided key preliminary data for this R01 grant.”

Jarajapu joined the NDSU faculty in 2011. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmacy from Andhra University, India; a Master of Science degree at the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom; and his doctorate from Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom.

The number of the five-year grant is 1 R01 AG056881-01.

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