FYI from the NHLBI Index

January 2009: Vol. 9, Issue 3
In the News

News from Capitol Hill

Science Advance from the NHLBI

  • Findings Hold Promise for Improved Diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease


News from Capitol Hill

Appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009

On September 30, 2008, the President signed H.R. 2638 the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-329), as a short-term measure to continue funding for most of the government, including the NIH, until March 6, 2009. The continuing resolution provides temporary funding for FY 2009, which began on October 1, 2008, for the NIH at the FY 2008 level. It does not include the supplemental FY 2008 funding provided in June to the NIH in the amount of $150 million by P.L. 110-252 (see below).

On June 30, the President signed into law H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252), a Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided additional funds for the 2008 fiscal year. The supplemental appropriation included $150 million for the NIH.

The Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act

On October 8, 2008, the President signed into law S. 1810 (Public Law 110-374), a measure that increases the provision of information and support services to families affected by Down syndrome or another prenatally or postnatally diagnosed condition, and authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the NIH or the CDC, or the Administrator of HRSA, to award grants or contracts to coordinate the provision of evidence-based information regarding support services for those conditions.

President Signs Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Act of 2008

On October 13, 2008, the President signed into law H.R. 1532 (Public Law 110-392), the Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Act of 2008. The law amends the Public Health Service Act with respect to making progress toward eliminating tuberculosis and authorizes the NIH Director to expand, intensify, and coordinate tuberculosis research and development in the NIH institutes and centers.

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Recent Advance from the NHLBI

Findings Hold Promise for Improved Diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)—reduced or blocked blood flow, usually to the legs, due to buildup of plaque in the arteries—affects 8 to 12 million people in the United States, many of them elderly. Smokers and people with diabetes are especially prone to PAD. Patients can experience debilitating pain that inhibits their ability to walk, and they are at especially high risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Because many persons with PAD do not experience identifiable symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are often delayed, with serious consequences that can lead to leg amputation or even death.

Researchers recently identified substances in blood that could potentially be used as biomarkers for improved diagnosis of PAD. Analyzing blood samples from study participants, the researchers discovered that blood levels of three substances (sTie2, Ang2, and VEGF) known to promote angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) were significantly higher in participants with PAD than in healthy controls. Moreover, severely affected participants had significantly higher levels of two of the substances (sTie2 and VEGF) than patients with mild PAD.

The findings raise the possibility that a blood test based on these angiogenic biomarkers may provide an additional, reliable diagnostic measure of PAD—one that can identify patients early and distinguish between mild and severe PAD. Such a test would allow doctors to begin treatment earlier and could also help them monitor and evaluate a patient’s response to treatment.

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