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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Investigation Of Drug ‘Repurposing’ Wins Award

September 16th, 2014

heart-diseaseAlthough he is still an undergraduate, Alvin Yu is working on research in the Systems Biology Lab of CVM Assistant Professor Steve Ramsey. As a Bioengineering major in the OSU Honors College, he  is especially interested in research that will improve health and longevity through the use of biocomputing.

At the 2014 OSU Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing (CGRB) Fall Conference, Yu won the award for best poster in the undergraduate category. The winning poster described his work finding new therapies to combat atherosclerosis, commonly known as narrowing of the arteries.

Cardiovascular disease, including artherosclerosis, is a leading cause of death. Currently, the primary drug therapy for prevention of heart disease is statins, but they only reduce mortality by 27 percent. Using the super-computer capabilities of the CGRB, Yu investigated the thousands of FDA-approved drugs that are no longer under patent, looking for candidates that may be useful in combating heart disease. Specifically, he used an existing database called the Connectivity Map to measure different drug’s effect on human immune cells. Atherosclerosis is known to involve immune cell response. Yu identified three drugs with potential for preventing heart disease. His future work will focus on further analysis of these drugs.

“Everyone in the lab is super proud of Alvin,” says Ramsey.

The CGRB Biocomputing and Bioinformatics facility provides wide-ranging resources, expertise and support for computational needs of the molecular biosciences community at Oregon State University. The facility offers a robust computing environment for high-level computational biology and a versatile intellectual resource for interdisciplinary collaboration.

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