Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preventing Sudden Death: New Sodium Channel Raises Hope For Control Of Cardiac Arrhythmias

Date:
December 3, 1997
Source:
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a new type of sodium channel that controls a vital step in the complex electrical process that regulates heartbeat. The discovery could pave the way for the first effective drug therapy to control cardiac arrhythmias.

Like a car, the heart depends on a complex and tightly timed series of electrical and mechanical events to do its job. If its precisely synchronized system malfunctions, the car may stall–and the heart may suffer cardiac arrhythmias, life-threatening disruptions in the coordination of contractions in different regions of the heart muscle needed to keep blood pumping through the body. Arrhythmias kill nearly half a million Americans a year, and there is no effective drug therapy.

Related Articles


Just as the electrical system of a car triggers movement of the pistons, electrical events in the heart trigger its contraction. Now researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have identified a previously unrecognized step in the electrical process of stimulating the heart to beat, a new sodium channel that could pave the way for effective drug treatments for cardiac arrhythmias.

C. William Balke, MD, associate professor of medicine and physiology; Lawrence Goldman, PhD, professor of physiology; Stephen R. Shorofsky, MD/PhD, assistant professor of medicine; and Rajesh Aggarwal, PhD, research associate in medicine, report their findings in the December 1, 1997 issue of the Journal of Physiology (London).

Balke describes the new sodium channel as "a seminal finding with broad implications, not just in the heart, but in many kinds of excitable cells."

A sodium channel is a minute pathway through the membrane or outer surface of cells. Made up of protein molecules embedded in the cell membrane of heart muscle cells, sodium channels open and close in response to electrochemical changes, allowing positively charged ions to pass into the cell and trigger the rhythmic contractions that pump blood through the body’s circulatory system. Electrophysiologists have known about sodium channels in heart muscle for some time. It had long been believed that the rhythmic electrical activity of the heart caused contraction by directly opening these "classical" sodium channels in heart muscle cells. Balke and Goldman found instead that the heart’s rhythmic electrical activity opens a new type of sodium channel, which in turn opens the classical sodium channels that trigger contraction of ventricular cells.

The new sodium channel appears to be a previously unknown and vital step in the normal sequence of electrical activity that causes the heart to pump. Balke calls it a "gatekeeper" between the electrical signal and contraction of heart muscle. "This may give us a tool for preventing and correcting arrhythmias," he said. "It is a trigger we didn’t know existed, and it gives us a whole new target for pharmacological therapy for arrhythmias." Added Goldman: "Even if it isn’t the source of the defect, if you can modulate it properly, you should be able to control the arrhythmia," The Maryland investigators’ research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland, Baltimore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland, Baltimore. "Preventing Sudden Death: New Sodium Channel Raises Hope For Control Of Cardiac Arrhythmias." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971203120443.htm>.
University of Maryland, Baltimore. (1997, December 3). Preventing Sudden Death: New Sodium Channel Raises Hope For Control Of Cardiac Arrhythmias. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971203120443.htm
University of Maryland, Baltimore. "Preventing Sudden Death: New Sodium Channel Raises Hope For Control Of Cardiac Arrhythmias." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971203120443.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Dads-To-Be Also Experience Hormone Changes During Pregnancy

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) A study from University of Michigan researchers found that expectant fathers see a decrease in testosterone as the baby's birth draws near. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins