Wei Li, M.D., Ph.D., (above) a cardiovascular biologist and associate professor of biomedical sciences at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was recently awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further his thrombosis research.

Thrombosis occurs when blood clots form and block the blood vessels. Thrombosis is an underlying cause of myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke and a significant risk factor for severe COVID-19 infections. Various medications are used to prevent thrombosis by blocking platelet activation and aggregation, or clotting, systemically, but they also come with a number of side effects, including thrombocytopenia and hemorrhaging.

Li’s new $444,000 grant (2R15HL145573-02) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, will further his lab’s research on thymidine phosphorylase (TYMP) with tipiracil, a selective TYMP inhibitor and an FDA-approved medication, as a promising anti-thrombotic therapy without bleeding disorders. The three-year study will also investigate if TYMP deficiency decreases COVID-induced microthrombosis and reduces mortality in mice.

Li’s lab has generated various mouse models, with or without TYMP expression, that are sensitive to infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This new study will use a laboratory virus that mimics the COVID-19 milieu, to further study the thrombosis models that have been established in Li’s lab. Findings from this study could help pave the way for repurposing tipiracil as an antiplatelet medication for patients with high thrombotic risks, especially COVID-19 patients.

This award is a NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15) designed to support small-scale research projects that strengthen the research environment of the institution. This is the second R15 grant awarded to Li since 2019 and will continue to build on the findings from his team’s research under the prior grant award. Hong Yue, M.D., Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., serve as co-investigators on this award.

From Marshall University