A tiny channel and a large vessel: A new clue for heart attack

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at The University of Manchester and medical institutes in Italy have identified a gene variant that predisposes people to a special type of heart attack.

Their research, published in the International Journal of Cardiology could lead to the development of new drugs to treat the problem.

Dr Paolo Tammaro, who led the team, said: "Heart attacks happen when the blood supply to the heart is reduced by the narrowing or blocking of the coronary artery – the vessel that supplies the heart with oxygen and nutrients. Often this is due to which narrow the vessel. However, in some people with perfectly clean arteries, the vessel suddenly constricts shutting off the blood supply. We have discovered that this process, known as vasospasm, can be associated with a rare variant of a particular gene."

Dr Enzo Emanuele, from the University of Pavia, who screened the patients, said: "We knew that this type of heart attack occurs in about 6% of patients and that many of them have a , but we did not know the gene responsible. Now that it is identified it will be possible to predict who is at risk and to treat them accordingly."

The gene identified by the team encodes a protein termed KATP channel. This protein forms microscopic gated pores that allow to move into and out of the cells, in this way giving rise to electrical impulses.

Dr Tammaro and research scientist Keith Smith, both based at the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, added: "These channels are abundant in the cells forming the wall of coronary arteries, and the they generate govern this artery's diameter. Due to the mutation we have identified, the KATP channel in the can no longer fulfill this delicate process."

The team, whose work was supported by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), now plans to approach pharmaceutical companies with their findings, aiming to design novel drugs that could interact with this new target.

More information: Smith, K. et al. Coronary spasm and acute myocardial infarction due to a mutation (V734I) in the nucleotide binding domain 1 of ABCC9, (2013) Int J Cardiol. doi:pii: S0167-5273(13)00969-8. 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.04.210.

Related Stories

'Wonder gene' found to affect blood pressure

Jul 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have identified an important gene that regulates the function of the muscle cells in arteries and thereby helps determine blood pressure.

New coating may reduce blood clot risk inside stents

Sep 05, 2013

Coating artery-opening stents with a new compound may someday eliminate a common side effect of the treatment, according to preliminary research in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Va ...

Warfarin a potential heart-attack risk

Aug 26, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Vitamin K deficiency caused by the long-term use of warfarin has a wider range of health implications than commonly known, including the calcification of organs that can lead to life-threatening ...

Recommended for you

Study: Removing clot helps limit stroke disability

Dec 17, 2014

For the first time in several decades, a new treatment has been shown to limit the damage from a common type of stroke. Researchers in the Netherlands found that mechanically removing a clot in addition to using a clot-busting ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.