Scientists trace the molecular roots of potentially fatal heart condition

At a glance:

Research using heart cells from squirrels, mice and people identifies an evolutionary mechanism critical for heart muscle function

Gene defect that affects a protein found in the heart muscle interferes with this mechanism to cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition

Imbalance in the ratio of active and inactive protein disrupts heart muscle’s ability to contract and relax normally, interferes with heart muscle’s energy consumption

Treatment with a small-molecule drug restores proper contraction, energy consumption in human and rodent heart cells

If affirmed in subsequent studies, the results can inform therapies that could halt disease progression, help prevent common complications, including arrhythmias and heart failure

Developing Electrically Active Materials to Repair Damaged Hearts

When a heart attack occurs, muscle in the heart tissue can be scarred, interfering with electrical activity necessary for healthy heart function. Using artificial materials to patch or rebuild damaged parts has been tried but only recently has work focused on the electrical properties needed for proper cardiac operation. In this week’s APL Bioengineering, investigators review the use of electrically conductive biomaterials for heart repair and treatment.

A Snapshot in Time: Study Captures Fleeting Cell Differences That Can Alter Disease Risk

In cinema and science fiction, one small change in the past can have major, sometimes life-changing effects in the future. Using a series of snapshots, researchers recently captured such so-called “butterfly effects” in heart muscle cell development, and say this…