Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Ottawa scientist discovers possible early treatment for heart disease
Research by an Ottawa scientist and his team could lead to groundbreaking new treatment for certain forms of heart disease, care that could affect as much as 15 per cent of the population. Dr. Lynn Megeney, a specialist in regenerative medicine at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, has discovered that certain proteins involved in normal cell death also play a significant role in abnormal thickening of the heart muscle. In a paper recently published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he says that by blocking these specific proteins in the heart, such damage can be prevented, and even reversed. The thickening, known as cardiac hypertrophy, can be a beneficial response to exercise or pregnancy. But it is often the unwelcome result of such stresses as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure and genetic conditions, and can cause the heart to grow to twice its size and eventually cease functioning properly, leaving transplant as the only viable treatment. It is, says Megeney, perhaps the most significant and least talked about long-term ramification of unregulated high blood pressure. "We often think of kidney problems and stroke, but nobody really discusses cardiac hypertrophy."