(Aug. 1, 2016) -- Ender Finol, associate professor of biomedical engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has been honored with the American Heart Association’s Collaborative Sciences Award. The award includes a $750,000 grant to continue his aneurysm research, which involves “freezing” aortic aneurysms before they burst and cause serious damage.
An aneurysm can be a time bomb, medically speaking, since people don’t know they have one until either a doctor detects it or it ruptures. In the latter case, there’s about an 80 percent fatality rate. If it’s caught in time, doctors will generally observe the aneurysm until it grows to about 5 cm in diameter, which requires surgery to give the blood vessels relief from the pressure.
“The status quo is that you can’t stop the growth of an aneurysm, so checking in until it’s time to intervene surgically is the only option for many people,” Finol said.
Just last year, Finol received a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his research in predicting when aneurysms will need surgery by thoroughly mapping them with magnetic resonance images. Now, Finol is taking that research a step further by joining forces with Dan Simionescu, associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson University and Satish Muluk, system director of vascular surgery at the Allegheny Health Network.
The trio of researchers are using a chemical compound, pentagalloyl glucose, to “freeze” aneurysms in the aorta once they’ve been detected.
“The compound binds to two proteins in the aorta called elastin and collagen and stabilizes the artery by keeping the aneurysm from growing,” Finol said. “The aorta remains stable and we hope its biomechanical environment is also stabilized.”
Finol is now beginning work with Simionescu and Muluk as well as Eugene Sprague, Geoffrey Clark and Beth Goins, all faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, to find a way to apply the chemical non-invasively to human subjects. For now, this award will support a 3-year animal trial.
Like Finol’s previous work to prevent unnecessary aortic surgery that could be costing lives, he hopes his research will pave the way for a new approach to aneurysm treatment.
“It’s a serious medical problem that requires an innovative, elegant approach,” he said. “As engineers, we can make a difference.”
Learn more about Ender Finol.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering.
All UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to attend open forums featuring finalist candidates for the dean of the UTSA College of Sciences.
Various Locations, Main Campus
UTSA is an early voting site for the statewide General Election.
H-E-B Student Union Bexar Room (HSU 1.102), Main Campus
The UTSA Office of the President and the UTSA College of Public Policy present a discussion on San Antonio’s charter amendments. Event will be livestreamed to UTSA Main Campus, Travis Room – HSU 2.202
Buena Vista Street Building Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
More than 75 local, state and national graduate and professional schools will showcase their programs at the Main Campus. It's free and open to the public. Interested attendees are encouraged to register for the event in advance.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
Hosted by the UTSA Office of Information Technology Student Innovation Coalition, Tech Talk is a forum for students to share thoughts about technology on campus with IT professionals and learn about products and services available to help them succeed.
Student Union Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries will host Claudia García-Louis, assistant professor, at the Downtown Library for her presentation AfroLatinxs: Navigating Blackness and Latinidad in the Age of Trump, as part of the popular Pizza and Research series.
Buena Vista Street Building Downtown Library (BVB 2.314), Downtown Campus
Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" with a viewing of the 1931 film adaptation. A discussion on the impact and evolution of the novel will introduce the film, led by English, Music and Medical Humanities faculty.
John Peace Library North Commons, 2nd Floor
UTSA Libraries will host K. Jill Fleuriet, Ph.D., for her lecture, Flipping the Script: U.S.-Mexico Border in the News and Alternative Visions.
John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
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