A group of scientists are taking their cues from cardiac patients in a bid to find a way to better help patients protect themselves against harm from a heart attack.
The researchers based their work on: 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 study, which has been published online Feb. 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.
The Rochester team has created a new way - faster, less expensive, and easier than current methods - to measure the activity of mKATP. The team has also identified a molecule, known as PIP2, that can restore the channel's activity even once it has stopped working properly. The new work is expected to provide new clues about how the channel, which is thought to be central to our heart health, is regulated in the heart.