Published On: Wed, Apr 20th, 2016

FAU Researcher Receives NIH Grant to Continue Development of New Therapeutic Agents for Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer and Sepsis

BOCA RATON, Fla. (April 19, 2016) — A leading scientist at Florida Atlantic University has received $540,250 from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his groundbreaking research to develop new therapeutic agents for collagen-based diseases including multiple sclerosis, cancer and sepsis.

Collagen-based diseases also referred to as connective tissue diseases involve the protein-rich tissue that supports organs as well as other parts of the body such as fat, bone and cartilage. These connective tissues serve as the framework for the body and are composed of two major structural protein molecules, collagen and elastin.

Gregg Fields, Ph.D., principal investigator, professor, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, Fla., has spent more than 15 years researching the use of chemical approaches to better understand how protein three-dimensional structures influence cellular and enzymatic behaviors.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system involving the loss of the blood-brain barrier integrity and plaque development in the brain.

“MS progresses due to destruction of basement membrane collagen found at the blood-brain barrier,” said Fields. “A research focus in my laboratory has been to develop models for the study of collagen degradative processes. These models have helped to identify the mechanisms of collagen catabolism, which are involved in a number of collagen-based diseases including MS, cancer and sepsis.”

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have long been recognized as potential targets for a variety of pathologies, including tumor angiogenesis and metastasis, osteoarthritis (OA), inflammation, periodontitis, vascular diseases, post-myocardial infarction remodeling, neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders.

“This NIH grant will allow us to continue our work to examine the role of MMPs in diseases like MS since several MMPs are known to degrade collagen,” said Fields.

Fields, who is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is a renowned researcher who holds seven U.S. patents and has authored more than 250 scientific publications. He has participated in 13 NIH R01 grants, either as principal investigator or co-principal investigator, and has presented more than 200 invited lectures.

“Dr. Fields is one of our most distinguished and accomplished scientists at Florida Atlantic University, and this grant will enable him to continue his lifesaving work to develop treatments for some of the most devastating diseases and conditions that afflict us globally,” said Janet Blanks, Ph.D., interim dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

This research is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, grant number 5R01CA098799-15 (Mechanism and Inhibition of Collagenolytic Activity).

– FAU –

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