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lethal arrythmia breakthrough?

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  • lethal arrythmia breakthrough?

    have you all seen this?

    link to story

    Dec 02 (HeartCenterOnline) - Scientists have uncovered the reason why some young patients with cardiac arrhythmias are at increased risk of sudden death. Researchers believe the findings could lead to new experimental drug therapies for some arrhythmia conditions.

    An arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat resulting from any change, deviation or malfunction in the heart's electrical system. An arrhythmia may be abnormally fast (tachycardia) or abnormally slow (bradycardia), and some can be fatal (e.g., ventricular fibrillation).

    New research has uncovered the molecular mechanism that can cause cardiac arrhythmia syndrome to result in sudden death in some young people. The study found that the condition is caused by a mutation capable of disrupting the inflow and outflow of key chemicals in heart muscle cells.

    The researchers learned that patients who have a certain genetic mutation associated with the protein ankyrin-B are at high risk of sudden death from cardiac arrhythmia. Ankyrin-B was observed to combine with three different proteins to form an ankyrin-B complex. This complex allowed the passage of different ions in and out of the cell.

    The ankyrin-B complex essentially functions as a safety valve, maintaining healthy levels of certain ions that are needed for a regular heartbeat. Genetic mutations in some people cause this complex to break down, resulting in a potentially fatal arrhythmia.

    "It is exciting to find that the three proteins and ankyrin-B formed one giant protein complex that clearly has a physiological function, and further that it explains why the humans with the mutation of ankyrin-B suffer from these arrhythmias," explained Peter Mohler, Ph.D., and first author of the paper, in a recent press release. "Now we know why these people really die - the mutant form of ankyrin-B causes this large protein complex to fall apart."

    Determining the cause and structure of this disorder should provide the medical community with targets for potential new drugs.

    The study was conducted by researchers from Duke University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

    The results of the study were published in the November 16, 2005, Public Library of Science - Biology.
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