Coronary artery disease is the most common cardiac disease in the United States. When vessels supplying the heart become completely blocked, the heart tissue dies. This is called a myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. Current treatments for blocked arteries are stents and antiproliferative drugs (i.e., drugs that cause cells to stop replicating). Both bare stents and drug-eluting stents have major side effects stemming from the migration and proliferation (movement and replication) of smooth muscle cells in the vessel wall. Previous studies have found that RNA aptamers may be the answer to this problem as they function similarly to antibodies and have specific targets. Several RNA aptamers were identified that target vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), but not vascular endothelial cells (VEC) in a previous study. In an effort to understand the effects of the aptamers on VSMC, I conducted several assays using the aptamers on pig aortic smooth muscle and endothelial cells. The results from this research will be used as the basis of further studies to be done in vivo in pigs.
Savannah Moya is from a small town in Rockingham County, North Carolina. She is a senior at Salem College and will be graduating with her B.S. in Biology in May. Savannah was raised with a love for medicine and a fascination with the human body and the diseases that affect it. During her time at Salem, Savannah has had the opportunity to intern in a research lab looking for a new treatment for coronary artery disease. Savannah plans to continue her work in research labs as a lab technologist/technician.