WSU researchers identify protein to help with heart attack recovery

SPOKANE, Wash. — Every year in the United States around 800,000 people will have a heart attack — that’s about one every four seconds, and the recovery can be challenging. Researchers at Washington State University are working to make that easier.

A heart attack is caused when there is a blood clot in the artery and blood can no longer flow into to the heart. The only way to treat that is either by using drugs or doctors going in and clearing it out. However during this process major cell death can occur called necrosis.

Researchers at WSU screened more than 20,000 genes to identify proteins that play a key role in necrosis. They discovered that regulating protein called PKA. Being able to identify this can help reduce the amount of cell death.

“By manipulating this protein this PKA (protein kinase A) we can actually change, we can determine how much cell death there is. By activating PKA there is more cell death and that means if we inhibit PKA there will be less cell death,” said Zhaokang Cheng an Assistant Professor at WSU.

Researchers hope this breakthrough could eventually lead to creation of a small molecule drug that could prevent heart muscle cell death after the therapy.

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