Pfizer Grants Dr. Yaj Banerjee an Award to Explore Apixaban, the Blood Clot Preventing Drug

05 Jul 2018

Associate Professor of  Biochemistry at the College of Medicine, Yaj Banerjee, was awarded the Emerging Markets Thrombosis Investigator-Initiated Research Program (EMRISTA) award by Pfizer USA.

The Emerging Markets Thrombosis Investigator-Initiated Research Program (EMRISTA) is a Pfizer funding opportunity established to fund innovative medical research from researchers across Pfizer’s Emerging Markets, including Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It was a very competitive process with researchers from than 100 countries eligible to apply. Dr. Yaj’s area of investigation of the inflammatory role of this new class of drugs in preventing atherosclerosis is relevant and timely with the increased use of factor Xa inhibitors in cardiovascular care today.

The research award is about the drug Apixaban, developed by Pfizer, which prevents the formation of blood clots by inhibiting a specific protein, coagulation Factor-Xa.

This protein has also been implicated in atherosclerosis, which is buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arteries. The research aims to test the hypothesis that Apixaban by inhibiting Factor-Xa will weaken atherosclerosis, thereby providing a new paradigm to Apixaban’s function. 

Assoc. Professor Banerjee communicated his idea in the form of a research proposal to Pfizer USA, upon approval he was awarded the necessary emolument to begin this research. His team is comprised of a post-doctoral fellow, research assistant and visiting researchers from Italy who will be pursuing the research at MBRU.

Specific aspects of the award especially those concerning the recruitment of patients were reviewed by the Dean of the College of Medicine, Professor Alawi Alsheikh-Ali and Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Aida Azar. As for the logistical support in the preparation of the submitted research and associated documents, Ms. Rekha Thomas, Senior Executive at the Dean’s Office, is leading.     

Assco. Professor Yaj said, “When I came across the calls for proposals, I wanted to see if I can explore if Apixiban is able to attenuate, basically weaken, inflammation. I am hoping that through this research we can find out if Apixiban can cure something else than its intended use. Pfizer were very happy with our proposal, because if we are able to show that this drug decreases the formation of proinflammatory cytokines, and if we are able to publish our research, they will be able to cite it and show that the drug has more pleiotropic benefits to it.”

The study commenced in May 2018 and will conclude within a two-year period. The research will be primarily conducted at MBRU, but certain parts of the study such as sample collection will be pursued at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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