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Victor Chang scientists unlock the 'gates' on sudden cardiac death
Date:1/28/2011

, studied the hERG potassium channel, an ion channel that determines how long each heart beat lasts and the channel which is most susceptible to being 'blocked' by drugs.

"The hERG channel is a particularly 'sticky' channel, in that most drugs will bind to it when the outer gate is closed. What we've done is to discover how these outer gates operate, in the hope that we can then design drugs more effectively to minimise the unwanted side effects," said Professor Vandenberg.

"The gates to this channel operate in a much more complex way than was previously thought much like a Japanese puzzle box, they require a series of complicated, interrelated movements to open them. It is not simply a matter of lifting and shutting a lid as was commonly believed," says Professor Vandenberg.

The team suspects this 'gate mechanism' will also apply to other channels that are important in the heart's electrical system, as well as those that control electrical communication in the brain.

"The biggest benefit of this research is that it should allow the better design of drugs so they no longer block these important electrical channels in the heart," added Professor Vandenberg. "In time, this should allow patients the freedom and peace of mind to take their medication without the fear of their heart suddenly stopping."


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Contact: Anna Dear
A.Dear@victorchang.edu.au
61-292-958-715
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

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