Researching potential treatment for heart failure after a heart attack
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Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death and disability in Wisconsin, but it’s also costly: more than $7.5 billion is spent each year by families and the state’s health care systems. Heart attacks are the most common form of heart disease for Wisconsinites, and while many patients survive them, they often deal with progressive heart failure due to the heart failing to heal appropriately. Within five years of their first heart attack, 36% of men and 47% of women 45 years and older will die.
Heart failure after heart attacks is due to the loss of functioning heart muscle cells and scarring caused by supporting heart cells (fibroblasts). Researchers suggest that converting fibroblasts into cardiac muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) could improve recovery and control fibrosis, or the scarring caused by fibroblasts. This conversion could be improved if researchers can identify protein barriers to the process, which are suspected to be RNA-binding proteins (RBPs).
This study focuses on identifying the specific RBPs interfering with fibroblast-to-cardiomyocyte conversion in humans, which can be targeted to develop an effective treatment to repair patient’s failing hearts.
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