Millions in research funding in pharmaceutical sciences supports future discoveries

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Multiple faculty and student teams in NDSU Pharmaceutical Sciences are involved in research to treat and prevent disease in a variety of areas.

Alzheimer’s Disease research

  • A $3.2 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to Dr. Jagdish Singh, chair and professor in NDSU Pharmaceutical Sciences, will be used to investigate whether increasing a specific protein called VGF in the brain could help treat Alzheimer’s Disease when delivered through an I.V. or via a nasal spray.

“VGF plays a critical role in learning, memory, and how physiological processes become disordered in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” said Singh. “The long-term goal of our research is to design a non-viral gene delivery carrier for efficient delivery of pVGF to the brain to prevent and treat aging-related cognitive decline,” said Singh.

  • A $2.8 million five-year grant to Dr. Sathish Venkatachalem, associate professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and research partners in the UND School of Medicine includes $1.4 million for research at NDSU covering “Communicating Lung Dysfunction to the Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Diabetes and other research

  • Yagna Jarajapu, associate professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, received a $2.2 million NIH grant over five years, as well as a Transformative Project Award of $300,000 from the American Heart Association.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting almost a third of older adults. Preliminary work by Dr. Jarajapu’s team discovered that tiny particles called exosomes shed by stem cells interact with tiny blood vessels in the brain and decrease their ability to convey blood flow to different parts of brain, thus setting the stage for developing vascular dementia.

Jarajapu’s team has identified that activation of a receptor, MrgD, in the brain blood vessels reversed aging-associated decrease in function and the negative impact of exosomes. The new funding from NIH supports testing to determine if MrgD activators will delay or reverse cognitive decline with aging.

The separate Transformative Project Award will be used to test if blockade of the the ß-Splice Variant of TERT restores reparative functions of diabetic stem cells to create cell-based therapies for diabetic vascular diseases.

  • In a separate grant award, Stefan Vetter, research assistant professor, received a one-year $100,000 grant from a National Institutes of Health initiative titled “Illuminating the Druggable Genome.”

“The research focuses on characterizing drug binding properties of CAMKV and develops methods to block its function,” said Vetter. “CAMKV is suspected to play a role in mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.”

NDSU is an R1 research institution and a place where students experience opportunities to grow, contribute and prepare for fulfilling careers. The research portfolio for the College of Health and Human Sciences includes prestigious R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health, and additional agencies and organizations, with research focused on the role of pharmaceutical sciences in disease prevention, disease treatment, and additional research to promote health.

As a student focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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