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MCP Hahnemann University Research Represents Crucial Step in Search for New Therapies for Heart Failure.

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 5, 1999--

Pioneer Identifies Chain of Events Leading to Heart Muscle Death.

Study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

An international team of scientists led by an MCP Hahnemann University researcher reported that they have taken an important step toward finding a way to prevent progressive heart failure.

Dr. Jagat Narula, the MCP Hahnemann University associate professor of medicine who in 1996 made the breakthrough discovery that heart muscle cells "commit suicide" during congestive heart failure, has now identified how that cell death occurs. According to Narula, the finding may lead to new therapies for heart failure patients.

In a study that will appear in the July 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Narula and other researchers reported that improper release of a protein from the mitochondria or "powerhouse" of the cardiac cells tend to stimulate other proteins that wreak havoc on the cell.

"This process contributes to the dysfunction and demise of heart muscle cells and is possibly responsible for the advanced stages of heart failure," said Narula, the study's lead author.

Heart muscle cell death by this process is known as "apoptosis," which is derived from a Greek term meaning "the shedding of leaves from the tree," according to Dr. Surender Kharbanda, a researcher at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the study's co-author. Because apoptosis stems from a genetically programmed sequence of events, Narula is convinced that phramaceutical manipulation will someday lead to early intervention strategies for the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from congestive heart failure.

The study, a result of collaboration between researchers at MCP Hahnemann University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston), and San Matteo Polyclinic (Pavia, Italy), was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Visuals:

Narula identifies the offending muscular cells in color photographs of damaged hearts.

Copies of the paper are now available to reporters from the PNAS news office, 202/334-2138, pnasnews@nas.edu.
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