Researchers from the University of Guelph, Canada, have successfully discovered the location and effect of abnormal heart proteins that can cause cardiac failure, which could lead to more targeted treatments in the future.
The study has been published in PLoS ONE, and could lead to more efficient cures for those suffering from heart disease, which is a leading cause of death in many advanced nations. At present, the treatment of the illness is seen to be inefficient and a drain on hospital funds, but the new discoveries could lead to more calculated and cost-efficient methods being established.
Study author John Dawson, a molecular and cellular biology professor, said: "In order to cure heart disease, you have to understand its fundamental properties.
"So we looked at variants of naturally occurring proteins that are found in people with heart disease."
This primarily focussed on the actin protein, which is the most abundant protein in the body and helps in vital processing such as muscle movement. They examined gene abnormalities in this protein as well as its role in heart failure in order to pinpoint where things are going wrong.
Scientists have already linked HCM and DCM to 14 actin gene abnormalities. "But this is the first time that many of these variants have been studied at the molecular level," Dawson said.
It is hoped that this work will help to advanced targeted treatments of heart disease. Much like cancer, there are various different forms and variants which could be used to treat the root cause rather than the system as a whole. This could also improve the quality of life for patients who are successfully treated.
The University of Guelph researchers will now look further into developing these treatments, which is a growing field of interest for scientists around the world studying cardiovascular disease.