Looking for answers to aneurysms

31 October, 2011

A James Cook University and Queensland Tropical Health Alliance team has received a $2.7 million boost to its research on ways to detect and strengthen weak arteries, the leading cause of aneurysms.

Professor Jonathan Golledge, Head of JCU's Vascular Biology Unit in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and a team of researchers at JCU and leading national and international collaborators, were recently awarded more than $2.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for their work on aneurysms.

An aneurysm - an enlargement or bulge in an artery - is most likely caused by a weak artery wall. Aneurysms in the main abdominal artery affect five percent of men and one percent of women aged over 60.

They are most common in major arteries in the chest and abdomen or the arteries that supply the brain, legs or heart wall. The most prevalent risk factors for weak arteries include smoking, older age, male gender, heart disease and genetic predisposition.

Professor Golledge said they were studying ways to better understand the condition and also to trial new therapies.

"In this study we will assess whether a drug that limits artery weakening in pre-clinical testing also shows evidence of inhibiting processes important in artery damage in patients," he said.

"We believe this is a critical next step in the assessment of a promising new treatment."

Professor Golledge said the funding was important in terms of understanding artery weakening and to identify a drug therapy for the disease.

"Two of the grants awarded are to test new drug therapies aimed at limiting the progression of artery weakening."

He said the availability of this funding is potentially key to providing new management approaches for patients.

"The only treatments available for aortic aneurysm are surveillance until an aneurysm reaches a size that is large enough for surgery, and then surgery itself. There are no non-surgical treatments, or drugs that can be offered at present."

Professor Golledge said he was keen to hear from patients and physicians interested in being involved in the trials.

Source: James Cook University

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175.

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