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ETSU’s Agrawal awarded $1.85 million NIH grant

Contributed • Mar 6, 2020 at 4:56 PM

East Tennessee State University’s Dr. Alok Agrawal received an award for a new R01 grant proposal from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, to further develop his research on a protein that could be used to develop a treatment for pneumococcal infection.

The project, “Complement-mediated anti-pneumococcal functions of C-reactive protein,” is funded until January 31, 2025, at $370,000 per year, with the total funding amounting to $1,850,000.

Agrawal is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. He is a member of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity.

This research continues Agrawal’s study of the C-reactive protein, a component of the body’s inflammatory response that was discovered about hundred years ago in the blood of patients infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae.

In animal models of infection, CRP is protective against lethal infection with S. pneumoniae, indicating that CRP is essential for innate resistance to pneumococcal infection.

“Successful completion of this project will reveal how the properties of CRP can be utilized to develop a treatment strategy for pneumococcal infection and, at the same time, reduce the chances of development of antibiotic resistance,” Agrawal said.

“In addition, this project may also have implications in other areas of clinical medicine, such as age-related macular degeneration and retinal inflammation.”

In 2019, ETSU recognized Agrawal for almost 35 years of research related to CRP and awarded him the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research for his achievements.

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