A new NIH funded research project at Ohio State University has linked a certain protein in the heart to cardiac damage after chemotherapy. The study was lead by Govindasamy Ilangovan, Ohio State associate professor of internal medicine (photo courtesy of OSU), and received a total of $419,375 in funding from the NIH.
Heart damage after chemotherapy treatments is a common problem faced by patients and often leads to heart failure later in life. The cause of the damage has previously been unknown.
Ilangovan's team was able to link the heart damage to a stress related protein called heat shock factor-1 (HSF-1), which is created as a result of the pressure put on the heart by chemotherapy. “We have found that a simple stress-related factor could be aggravating chemotherapy’s effect on the heart” said Ilangovan.
Upon closer examination, the researchers found the cellular mechanism that causes HSF-1 to be so damaging. They found that HSF-1 blocks a gene in the heart from producing proteins which pump out the harmful chemotherapy medicine, thus allowing the chemo to damage the heart.
In the course of the study, mice genetically engineered to not produce HSF-1 had significantly healthier hearts and longer lives after receiving chemotherapy.
Now, Ilangovan and his team are seeking to apply their new knowledge to develop a drug which could inhibit HSF-1 and prevent heart damage in chemotherapy patients.
Ohio State University has more health science colleges within a close range than any other university within the nation and is considered on of the most active research climates in the nation. The National Science Foundation places OSU 10th in the nation for total science research spending.
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