Molecular ‘calcium sponge’ to tackle heart failure For help with Heart Failure call 0800 9788133

Sounds a bit peculiar, interested read on…

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s and the Lillehei Heart Institute have utilised molecular genetic engineering to optimise heart performance in models of diastolic heart failure by creating an optimized protein that can aid in high-speed relaxation similar to fast twitching muscles.

Within heart cells, calcium plays a major role in helping normal heart pump function. However, in diastolic failure the calcium signaling process is slowed; calcium levels rise to the peak needed for the squeezing action of the heart but don’t then drop quickly enough for an efficient relaxation period – the condition known as diastolic heart failure. University researchers were able to pinpoint a specific protein, parvalbumin – which aids in high-speed relaxation of fast twitching muscles in nature – and optimize it to become a calcium sponge for heart muscle. As a result, the optimized protein, ParvE101Q, soaks up excess calcium at a precise instant, allowing the heart to relax efficiently after contraction. Still with us…

The advance offers a solid conceptual step forward in solving the puzzle of diastolic heart failure. The next step will be determining the best possible delivery mechanism for the protein, which should allow the discovery to be used in clinics.

“In nature, there are unique organisms known to be able to contract and relax muscles quickly,” said Joseph M. Metzger, Ph.D, a University of Minnesota Medical School professor and chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. “We hoped research and discovery could help identify what was promoting this highly efficient activity so we could harness it for use in the heart. We’ve discovered that our optimised variation of parvalbumin can fulfill that role by treating diastolic heart failure.”

If they can develop an ideal delivery system for the optimized protein, the researchers believe they may have found a unique clinical application to treat diastolic heart failure.

I suppose we will all have to wait and see. We apologise for the level detail we sometimes go into but it generally cannot be described in any other way.

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