Clinical pathology resident wins award for research linking cancer to blood clots

Clinical Pathology resident Dr. Erika Gruber has received the 2012 Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (ASVCP).

Dr. Erika GruberGranted for outstanding scientific presentations by residents or graduate students in the field of veterinary clinical pathology, selection of the award was based on exemplary abstract composition, clarity of presentation, and value of the scientific content.

Gruber’s presentation explained her work on the relationship between cancer and hemostatic (blood clotting) disorders. The link between cancer and hemostatic disorders, particularly the development of large blood clots, has been recognized in human medicine for some time. Dogs with cancer can also develop blood clotting disorders. Some of the proteins involved in the formation of blood clots may also play a role in aggressive tumor behavior, such as metastasis.

To investigate how canine tumors can affect the formation of blood clots, Gruber compared two kinds of canine cancer cells that express different levels of tissue factor (TF), an important activator of clot formation. She found that the cell line which produced more TF generated more thrombin, an enzyme that is required for blood clotting.

“We found that canine tumor cells that express high levels of TF are able to generate more thrombin than canine tumor cells that express low levels of TF,” said Gruber. “Since both TF and thrombin appear to have roles in cancer biology beyond their role in hemostasis, characterizing their activity in specific tumors may lead to new therapies targeting these proteins in cancer patients.”

The award was presented at the annual meeting of the ASVCP in Seattle, WA in early December, 2012.