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MILWAUKEE — The Medical College of Wisconsin is the recipient of a five-year, $10 million National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Program Project Grant. The money will help the MCW continue genetic studies that seek to improve the molecular and clinical understanding of Von Willebrand disease (VWD), the most common hereditary bleeding disorder.

Von Willebrand disease is caused by a deficiency of Von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is necessary for normal blood clotting. The disease affects both men and women. Most cases are mild, but aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make the condition worse. Women may suffer very heavy menstrual bleeding, and a family history of a bleeding disorder is the primary risk factor.

This study will determine the clinical and genetic characteristics of a large number of VWF patients as well as carriers of genes for various forms of the disease. The researchers will also explore the impact specific combinations of these genes and unrelated genetic mutations may have on individuals and families.

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