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July 28, 1995
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ken Keatley
Innovative Blood Research Earns HopkinsEngineer
In Rita Alevriadou's laboratory at The Johns Hopkins
University, they like the expression "go with the flow."
She and her research team have engineered experimental in
vitro systems that mimic blood flow in humans to determine how
vital components of the vessel wall -- endothelial cells -- are
affected by flow-induced mechanical stresses. Understanding how
the friction generated by blood flow affects those cells will be
very helpful in the search for better treatment of such
cardiovascular diseases as atherosclerosis, restenosis or the
narrowing of vessels after angioplasty.
"Endothelial cells are exciting," said Alevriadou, an
assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
"Under normal conditions, they act as a barrier, keeping blood
platelets from adhering to the vessel wall. They also release
chemicals to prevent platelet thrombosis (blood clotting). But if
the cells are altered by disease or removed by injury, thrombosis
To bolster her efforts to determine how the mechanical
environment affects the anti-coagulant properties of the cells,
Alevriadou has recently been awarded a grant from the Whitaker
Foundation. The three-year grant, which will total $180,000, is
one of 42 made under the Washington-based foundation's Biomedical
Engineering Research Grants program for 1995.
Another research project being actively pursued in
Alevriadou's lab employs such sophisticated techniques as video
microscopy and digital image processing to visualize and quantify
the extent of platelet thrombosis, from flowing blood, onto
surfaces that mimic the diseased vessel wall.
"Our research is important, since in order to improve the
treatment strategies for vascular diseases it will be necessary
to understand the response of blood cells and endothelial cells
to arterial stresses," said Alevriadou.
Much of Alevriadou's research in fluid dynamics and vascular
biology is done in collaboration with cardiologists,
hematologists and other specialists in the Johns Hopkins School
of Medicine. They are about to embark on another project, which
will examine the role of the female hormone estrogen -- which
studies have found to be protective against cardiovascular
diseases in women -- on endothelial cells.
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