'First': News spotlight of the month

Nicholas Pugh

Dr Nicholas Pugh, Deputy Head of our School of Life Sciences, has recently been awarded £207,884 from the British Heart Foundation for a three-year project grant to investigate the role of zinc in platelets.

Platelets are blood cells that are involved in clotting, and also in the processes that lead to heart attacks and strokes. Normally, platelets travel round the blood system in a state of senescence. However, upon injury to the blood vessel, platelets become ‘activated’, resulting in them sticking to the damaged area and forming a thrombus. The process that converts a senescent platelet to an activated one has been the subject of intense research in recent years.

Nick’s laboratory has identified zinc as a potential regulator of platelet activation. Zinc is a biologically relevant metal ion, which is located in stores within the platelet. Upon activation, zinc is released from the stores into the platelet cytoplasm where it acts to regulate various important cellular processes.

The grant will provide support for a postdoctoral research associate, who will investigate how zinc is released, and further identify the processes in which it is involved. Nick is also organising the Zinc UK conference at Anglia Ruskin University next year.