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Title
American Heart Association Awards Winthrop-University Hospital Grant-in-Aid
Date
April 5, 2016
Article

Mineola, NY – The American Heart Association recently granted researchers at Winthrop-University Hospital a Grant-in-Aid for their work studying the link between low dose methotrexate (a widely used anti-inflammatory therapy for rheumatoid arthritis) and second heart attack prevention. The grant, titled, “Methotrexate and Cholesterol Transport Regulation: Impact of Treatment Regiment in Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome,” poses the question: “Will reducing inflammation prevent a second heart attack?” The research team is led by Principal Investigator Allison Reiss, MD, Head, Inflammation Section at the Winthrop Research Institute, and co-investigators Alan Jacobson, MD, Chief Research Officer at Winthrop; Joshua De Leon, MD, Director of the Cardiovascular Training Program, Director of Nuclear Cardiology and Director of Cardiovascular Research; and Steven Carsons, MD, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.

“This is a potential game-changer in the way we treat heart attacks, especially those in people with diabetes or at a high risk for diabetes because of metabolic syndrome,” said Dr. Jacobson.

The grant builds on the work Dr. Reiss and her team at Winthrop began in 2014 as part of a major study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called the Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT). Through this study, Dr. Reiss and her team have been investigating whether taking low dose methotrexate reduces cardiovascular events in individuals with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome who have had a heart attack or multiple coronary blockages. The recent grant awarded to the team signals the start of a sub-study that will be even more in-depth and makes Winthrop an independent and innovative contributor to the science.

“It gives us the opportunity to answer the ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘what’ is happening in the blood in regards to methotrexate that is protecting patients,” said Dr. Reiss. “Through this research, we can determine how patients can be best treated and how people handle the drug.”

“One of Winthrop’s strengths rests in its ability to bridge the laboratory and the bedside,” said Dr. De Leon, who leads the clinical aspect of the project, identifying cardiology patients for the trial. “This group has been so innovative in discovering the role of inflammation in altering how the cell handles cholesterol at the basic level, and how inflammation worsens atherothrombosis (the hardening and narrowing of the body’s arteries). This grant is the next step in translating all these years of basic research to patient care.”

The results of the study have the potential to help researchers discover new ways to treat cardiovascular disease and identify patients who will respond best to the drug.

“Our team’s unique ability to study the molecular interface between inflammation in the body and the development of heart disease has led to this important approach to cardiovascular disease prevention,” said Dr. Carsons, who lends an immunological perspective from his experience as a rheumatologist who works with methotrexate in arthritis patients.

“It means so much to be funded by the American Heart Association, a prestigious and renowned organization that has made so many contributions to allocating funds for heart disease and preventing heart attacks,” said Dr. Reiss. “We are looking forward to honoring this incredible award and doing this work to make a substantial contribution to medical knowledge that will be used in direct patient care.”

For more information about how to enroll in this trial, please call Ellen Eylers, RN or Wendy Drewes, RN at (516) 663-2929.

American Heart Association Awards Winthrop-University Hospital Grant-in-Aid Pictured inside Winthrop’s new Research and Academic Center are (l.-r.) Deborah Whitfield, Director, Clinical Trials Center at Winthrop; Don Brand, PhD, Director, Health Outcomes Research; Joshua De Leon, MD, Director of the Cardiovascular Training Program, Director of Nuclear Cardiology and Director of Cardiovascular Research; Allison Reiss, MD, Head, Inflammation Section at Winthrop Research Institute; Steven Carsons, MD, Chief of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Winthrop; Ellen Eylers, MPH, MSN, RN, Research Coordinator, Cardiology Department; Wendy Drewes, BSN, RN, CCRC, Cardiology Research Coordinator; and Alexander Schoen, MBA, Director, Office of Sponsored Programs at Winthrop-University Hospital.

Winthrop-University Hospital researchers celebrate the American Heart Association grant.

Dr. Reiss (second from left) gathers with her team to celebrate the American Heart Association grant.