Saturday, February 27, 2010
Exploiting the body's ability to fight a heart attack
"Scientists trying to find a way to better help patients protect themselves against harm from a heart attack are taking their cues from cardiac patients. The work has its roots in a perplexing curiosity that physicians have long observed in their patients: When faced with a heart attack, people who have had a previous one oftentimes fare better than patients who have never had one. Scientists have been working for 25 years to understand one reason why – a process known as ischemic preconditioning, where a temporary restriction of blood flow somehow strengthens cardiac tissues down the road. In the latest research, published online February 25 in the journal Circulation Research, a group led by Paul Brookes, Ph.D., and graduate student Andrew Wojtovich at the University of Rochester Medical Center have developed new methods in the effort to track down one of the key molecular agents involved. That molecule, known as the mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel, or mKATP, is central to ischemic preconditioning, but it has proven elusive for scientists seeking to isolate and describe it"