Kaptur: University of Toledo earns $430,000 federal health research grant

December 6, 2018
Press Release

Toledo, Ohio – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), today announced a $434,739 National Institutes of Health research grant for the University of Toledo. The award is the first part of a five-year grant distributed by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research that will go toward research to protect people against oral disease.

“When we invest in scientific research, we can create healthier outcomes for the American people,” said Kaptur. “I applaud the efforts of the University of Toledo and the researchers doing this path-breaking work. Through federally funded research, Northwest Ohio is positioning itself as a leader in developing strategies that lead to improved health outcomes. As this important work continues, I’ll do everything I can in Washington to support our local research institutions.”

Dr. Heather Conti, UT assistant professor of biological sciences, will investigate the role blood platelets play in the body’s natural defense against oral candidiasis, also known as thrush.

Conti’s research is particularly aimed at helping cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, both of which can destroy mucous membranes in the mouth leading to patients developing painful and potentially serious fungal infections.

“Unfortunately, many patients who develop this condition choose to forego their cancer treatment. It can actually have a direct link to cancer prognosis because the symptoms are too hard to deal with,” Conti said. “The immune response to oral candidiasis is quite complicated. If platelets play an important role, we need to understand that response. The hope would be to develop therapeutics that not only kill the fungus directly but can also bolster the immune response.”

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