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Gene offers an athlete's heart without the exercise
Date:6/13/2013

chiko Watanabe, PhD, professor of pediatrics, genetics, and anatomy at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Research at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. Their collaboration began in 2004 with an investigation of why mice expressing mutant HEXIM1 suffered heart failure in the fetal stages of life. The research team found then that the gene is important for cardiovascular development and that it is abundant in the earliest months of life. This discovery led the team to explore whether increasing HEXIM1 levels could help reverse cardiovascular disease by encouraging vessel growth.

"Our Cleveland-based collaborative research teams revealed that increasing HEXIM1 levels brought normal functioning hearts up to an athletic level, which could perhaps stand up to the physical insults of various cardiovascular diseases," Watanabe said.

The results build on the team's findings last year that showed increased levels of HEXIM1 suppressed the growth of breast cancer tumors. Using a well-known mouse model of breast cancer metastasis, researchers induced the gene's expression by locally delivering a drug, hexamethylene-bisacetamide using an FDA-approved polymer. The strategy increased local HEXIM1 levels and inhibited the spread of breast cancer. The team is currently making a more potent version of the drug and intends to move to clinical trials within a few years.

"Many cancer drugs have detrimental effects on the heart," said Mukesh K. Jain, MD, FAHA, professor of medicine, Ellery Sedgwick Jr. Chair and director of Case Cardiovascular Research Institute at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. "It would be beneficial to have a cancer therapeutic with no adverse effects on the heart and perhaps even enhance its function."

The Case Western Reserve-led research team is now investigating HEXIM1's ability to improve the health of mice with cardiovascular disease. They are investigating
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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