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Creighton Research to Focus on Carotid Stenosis

Creighton Research to Focus on Carotid Stenosis

A Creighton University School of Medicine researcher has been awarded a $1.63 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his investigation of better therapeutic approaches to stroke prevention.

Stroke is the number three killer of all Americans and the leading cause of adult disability.

Specifically, Devendra K. Agrawal, Ph.D., associate dean for translational research in the School of Medicine and holder of the Peekie Nash Carpenter Endowed Chair in Medicine, will focus on plaque build-up in the neck or carotid artery, also known as carotid stenosis.

“The carotid artery is frequently the cause of strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or mini strokes). This is primarily due to the breaking off of atherosclerotic plaque that has built up in the artery,” Agrawal said. “We need to understand why some patients are more likely than others, who have similar plaque build-up, to show active symptoms of stroke, partial or total inability to produce and understand speech and other motor defects.”

The goal of the five-year study is to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms that cause instability and rupture of carotid plaques in patients with carotid stenosis. Among other things, Creighton researchers will take a close look at the role the neuropeptide NPY might play; NPY has also been implicated in obesity and blood pressure regulation.

“Once we have a better understanding of what causes atherosclerotic plaque to break off,” Agrawal said, “we can begin to look for means to prevent the devastating neurological diseases associated with carotid stenosis.”