UMDNJ Researcher Receives $9 Million Grant from NIH
Study focuses on new approach to chronic diseases
NEW BRUNSWICK — Following their recent discovery of previously unknown molecules that affect cell growth, scientists at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have launched an innovative research project that could change medical science’s understanding of – and fight against – chronic disease. This promising new research has been funded by a five-year, nine million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Together with UMDNJ, several universities will participate in this multidisciplinary project, including the University of Hawaii, the University of Washington and the University of Iowa.
“What NIH found so exciting about our work is that we are focusing on the previously overlooked role that magnesium – the second most abundant metal ion in living cells – plays in the development of disease,” said Dr. Alexey Ryazanov, the principal investigator of the project and a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We recently discovered a novel type of the signaling proteins that play a key role in the regulation of magnesium homeostasis in the cells. Understanding how those proteins function could lead us to new treatments for a wide range of conditions, including heart, kidney and neurological diseases.”
Magnesium is required for nearly every biological process, and hundreds of enzymes need magnesium as an essential cofactor. Part of Dr. Ryazanov’s research will focus on TRPM6 and TRPM7, the two newly discovered “channel enzymes” that regulate the ability of cells to absorb magnesium and other trace metal ions. Another element of the research will concentrate on how TRPM7 affects magnesium’s ability to regulate cell growth, an important factor in the potential development of medical intervention to control or cure disease. The research will also investigate how magnesium balance affects kidney function when these “channel enzymes” are not present.
To request an interview with Dr. Ryazanov, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.