Feinstein Institutes secures $6.1M NIH grant for red cell disorder research

Feinstein Institutes secures $6.1M NIH grant for red cell disorder research
Dr. Lionel Blanc from the Feinstein Institutes will lead the new red blood cell research. Credit: Feinstein Institutes

Red cell disorders, such as Diamond-Blackfan anemia and sickle cell disease, affect more than 1 billion people worldwide and are a significant cause of chronic illness and mortality.

To further our understanding and potential treatments of these disorders, The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research has been awarded a $6.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Led by Lionel Blanc, professor in the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes, the seven-year initiative aims to build off previous research and will shed light on DBA, SCD and anemia.

Specifically, Dr. Blanc and his team will attempt to unravel the process and malfunction of erythropoiesis, or the production of red blood cells, in those disorders.

“Understanding red cell blood disorders, how they develop and progress, is essential given their global impact on millions,” said Blanc. “This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will help pave the way for innovative treatments and improve the quality of life for those affected.”

The grant will help fund three research projects:

  • Study of ribosome and cell cycle length regulation in fetal vs. adult erythropoiesis.
  • Explore the erythromyeloblastic island associated with DBA and SCD.
  • Focus on identifying and testing novel drugs for these hematologic disorders.

“Dr. Blanc’s work in uncovering the fundamental molecular mechanisms of red blood cell disorders paves a path towards novel therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. “His translational research forms the foundation for identifying innovative treatments for complex blood disorders.”

Blanc is a recognized leader in hematology research. In 2022, he published research in Blood showing that high mobility group box-1 protein (HMGB1) prevents the body’s ability to produce sufficient oxygen-rich red blood cells.

In 2019, he received a $2.5 million grant from the NIH to study treatment for erythropoietic disorders, including DBA.


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