The research aims to understand processes that cause inflammation, which worsens heart and other diseases. Cells that die in blood vessels are usually eaten by other cells. However, when dead cells don’t get eaten they burst and release their contents, causing inflammation. One important factor released is Interleukin-1α, which has powerful effects on many processes of both innate and adaptive immunity. The group made the novel discovery that IL-1α is activated by thrombin – the enzyme that normally causes blood to clot. Thus, during blood clotting (e.g. during heart attacks or after laceration) IL-1α could be activated and induce inflammation, either worsening vascular disease, or conversely activating an immune response to stop infection.