Congratulations to Derek Boeldt, PhD, post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Ian Bird's laboratory, who recently received an R03 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). R03 grants support small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time.
Boeldt and colleagues will use a human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) model to screen for drugs or other compounds--such as various forms of conjugated linoleic acid commonly found in dairy products and other food items--that may be used to target endothelial dysfunction in preeclampsia. The endothelium is single cell layer lining the blood vessels, which is critically important for regulation of vascular function.
In preeclamptic pregnancies, endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of hypertension and contributes to fluid collection in the extremities, protein in the urine, improper immune cell migration into the vessel wall, and seizures. There are currently no approved drugs targeted to the endothelium for treatment of preeclampsia.
Boeldt and colleagues hope to identify therapeutic compounds that can be delivered through alterations in dietary intake in order to reduce symptoms of preeclampsia with minimal negative side effects for the mother and fetus.