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Scientists explore whether what heals the head can also heal the heart
Date:11/2/2011

What do heart disease and dementia have in common? Perhaps more than meets the eye, according to researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

A diverse group of scientists experts in cardiology, neurology, immunology, microbiology and chemistry are teaming up to study drugs that show promise in the treatment of dementia for the treatment of an equally debilitating disease heart failure. In this case, the connection between the head and the heart lies in a particular enzyme that they believe plays a role in the development of both conditions.

The team, headed by Burns C. Blaxall, Ph.D., Harris A. "Handy" Gelbard, M.D., Ph.D., and Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., recently won the largest grant awarded to date by the University's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) $250,000 over two years. The grant, part of the CTSI's newly initiated Incubator Program, is larger than most awarded by the Medical Center.

Thomas Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., who heads the CTSI and helped develop the new program, says tremendous weight was given to forming new teams that had never worked together before, and for these teams to study things they had never addressed before. The Blaxall/Gelbard/Dewhurst team fit the bill on both counts.

"The brain and the heart are two completely different systems that are rarely considered to have biological, or emotional, overlap," said Blaxall, lead researcher for the new study and an associate professor within the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Medical Center. "We may find that they are not so different after all."

The unique investigation stems from years of research by Gelbard, a neurologist, and Dewhurst, a microbiologist and immunologist, to develop the world's first treatment designed to prevent dementia commonly associated with HIV infection. They have already created a compound that shows great promise in the laboratory and works by blocking an enzyme known
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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