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Image 9 of Kentucky Alumni, vol. 80, no. 3, Fall 2009

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Breakth rou h I n Earl Detection And Prgvention gf AMD Researchers led by Dr. ]ayakrishna Ambati at UK has discov- search,” says Ambati, a professor ofphysiology, professor and ered a biological marker for neovascular age-related macular vice-chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and the Dr. degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. E. Vernon and Eloise C. Smith Endowed Chair in Macular The marker, a receptor known as CCR3, shows strong po- Degeneration at the UK College ofMedicine. "\Y/ith CCR3, tential as a means for both the early detection ofthe disease we have for the first time found a unique molecular signature and for preventive treatment. The findings were reported in for the disease. This brings us closer than we have ever been to an article published online by the prestigious journal Nature. developing a clinical diagnostic tool to discover and treat the “This is a major paradigm shift in macular degeneration re- disease early, before vision is lost.” Clinical Trials Begin For Grant Promotes Eastern Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Drug Cancer Prevention And Control The trials on riluzole, an already-marketed drug for slowing Richard A. Crosby in the UK College of Public Health has the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou received a multi-million dollar grant from the Centers for Gehrig’s disease), builds on the research of two University of Disease Control and Prevention. Crosby and Dr. Baretta R. Kentucky researchers, ]oe Springer and ]ames Geddes, who Casey, director ofthe UK Center for Excellence in Rural published several studies investigating potential uses ofthe Health — Hazard, will use this five-year grant to conduct com- drug. Both researchers have affiliations with the UK Spinal munity-based participatory research in Appalachia with a Cord and Brain Injury Research Center. focus on cancer prevention and control. Springer and Geddes began investigating the potential use of Through this grant, the Rural Cancer Prevention Center riluzole, which inhibits glutamate release that can exacerbate will be housed in Hazard and will cater to the 23-county serv- spinal cord injuries, in animal models. Their work demon- ice area ofthe UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health-Haz- strated that riluzole and methylprednisolone, used in combi- ard. nation, produce a better effect in improving functional One primary emphasis ofthe project will be the acceptance recovery than using either drug by itself Their research was ofthe vaccine against cervical cancer. “We find that less than supported in part by the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head In- 30 percent ofyoung women offered the vaccine will accept jury Research Trust, funding for which comes from the Com- even the first dose for free,” says Crosby. “It’s even more diffi- monwealth of Kentucky, and by the National Institutes of cult when you talk about the second or third dose.” Health. The project will also be looking for ways to prevent other The clinical trials will be conducted at the University of types of cancer that are quite common in Eastern Kentucky, Louisville Health Sciences Center; the University ofMiami in including colorectal cancer. Miami, Ela.; the University of Maryland Medical Center in “The community liaisons who will talk and meet with the Baltimore; Thomas jefferson University in Philadelphia; participants ofthe research project are people from the commu- Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas; the University of nity, so they trust them and they understand them,” said Casey. Texas at Houston; the University ofVirginia Health System in Casey says the hope is that this localized approach will enable Charlottsville, Va.; and the University of Toronto/Toronto researchers to turn their findings around quickly and have a Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario. positive effect on the community to improve health disparities. Sponsors and collaborators in the clinical trials are the Methodist Hospital System, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Compiled from news reports Eoundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, AO Clinical In- about T€$€8TCh at UK- vestigation and Documentation, and the Ontario Neuro- For more information about trauma Eoundation. research taking place at UK, visit www.research.uky.eoIu 7 <(