Dr. Mete Civelek, PhD Featured in Article: In Our Cellular Glue, Scientists Discover Answers About Heart Attacks, Stroke, More

University of Virginia School of Medicine scientists have found important answers about strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases by probing the biological glue our bodies create to protect us from those deadly dangers.

The researchers, led by Mete Civelek, PhD, wanted to better understand factors that influence our risk for cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the buildup of fatty plaques in our blood vessels. When these plaques form, our bodies build fibrous caps over them to keep them from breaking loose and causing heart attacks and strokes.

Civelek and his team thought that the scaffolding our bodies build over these plaques might contain important clues that could improve our understanding of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death around the world. And by taking a clever approach, the scientists were able to obtain important new insights that could advance the development of lifesaving treatments.

“We combined two decades of human genetics findings and a unique resource of smooth muscle cells, an important component of arteries where the plaques develop,” said Civelek, of UVA’s Center for Public Health Genomics and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “We discovered that our genetic makeup impacts the ways smooth muscle cells secrete proteins that provide strength to plaques and prevent them from rupturing and causing heart attacks and strokes.”

View the full article at the SOM website