UAMS Researcher Ware Awarded Grant To Study Role of Blood Platelets in Tumor Growth

By Kevin Rowe

LITTLE ROCK – A scientist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to continue his research into the role of blood platelets in the growth and spread of tumors.


Jerry Ware, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS Department of Physiology and Biophysics, was one of only 69 researchers to receive the highly competitive Idea Award, which includes a three-year grant of $425,960. A total of 767 proposals were submitted by researchers worldwide for the award.


Ware has spent more than 20 years studying a rare genetic condition known as Bernard-Soulier syndrome (BSS), which can be a life-threatening bleeding disorder. His research has shown that BSS is caused by abnormal circulating blood platelets that lack a specific protein important to the normal process of blood clotting.


“Platelets are essential to the normal processes that allow our blood to clot, preventing us from excessive bleeding. Without platelets, our normal blood clotting is significantly impaired,” Ware said. “Through our research of BSS, we also have learned that platelets may play another important role in the spread of tumors.”


Ware’s research is designed to determine if platelets circulating through the bloodstream may influence the development of secondary tumors in sites far from the primary tumor, a process known as metastasis.


“Although the idea that platelets might participate in cancer metastasis has been speculated on for decades, our research is providing evidence that supports involvement of a specific platelet receptor in the spread and growth of tumors. This identifies a target for treatment that could improve the outcome for breast cancer patients and other cancer patients as well,” Ware said.


The preliminary results of Ware’s research were published in 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, with the lead author as Ware’s graduate student Shashank Jain, a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences program in the UAMS Graduate School.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit