North Carolina Central University biochemist Maxwell A. Gyamfi, Ph.D., received $1.6 million from the National Institutes of Health to further studies into why women and African Americans experience more severe liver disease from alcohol.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism issued the research-and-development award to Gyamfi as a follow up to his previous work involving the pregnane X receptor (PXR) gene and its role in liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic illnesses.
“The work being done by Dr. Gyamfi and other researchers at NCCU’s Julius R. Chambers Biotechnology Biomedical Research Institute are helping scientists understand the genetic and metabolic differences impacting health,” said Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye. “That understanding is a first step in development of medical approaches and interventions that can specifically benefit African Americans and women.”
Alcoholic liver disease is a result of excessive alcohol use with negative health impacts disproportionately affecting women and African Americans. The researchers also are investigating genetic and metabolic factors leading to obesity and liver disease in both sexes, as well as African Americans.
“Women alcoholics also have greater death rates than men and higher risks for heart disease, breast cancer and other health concerns,” Gyamfi explained.
To conduct the study, researchers will use novel humanized mouse models and human liver and blood samples to provide insights into the human PXR gene, which is known to help protect the body from drugs and foreign substances. The researchers will also be looking for new therapeutic targets for treatment.
“Our studies should provide ground-breaking advances into pathways that can be targeted for the treatment alcoholic liver disease in women and African Americans,” Gyamfi said
The NIH grant will be awarded over five years, at $333,000 per year.