Cardiac study points to new treatment to guard against arrhythmias

A neuroscience professor at Case Western says that a new molecule he initially discovered in his research on treating spinal cord damage could also have applications for preventing dangerous incidents of arrhythmia that occur after a heart attack.

Beth Habecker

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) researcher Beth Habecker knew about the work of Case Western's Jerry Silver from her postdoc days. And she felt that his new compound--intracellular sigma peptide (ISP)--could address a common problem in both spinal damage as well as heart damage.

Each condition is linked to a failure of nerve regeneration triggered by proteoglycans, inhibitory molecules that create scar tissue after an injury. ISP could play a big role in reviving the nerves by bypassing or ignoring those scar molecules.

And her observation was borne out by an animal study.

"Essentially, the OHSU group cured arrhythmia in the mouse using ISP," Silver said. "They observed true regeneration right back into the scar within the infarct area. This is pretty exciting."

The plan now is to advance the study using larger animals to verify the signal that they're getting. And after that they can jump into clinical trials. 

Habecker explained: "The fact that giving ISP several days after injury can fully restore innervation and decrease arrhythmia risk is amazing, and is a key finding."

- here's the release
- here's the study in Nature

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