Kranias Honored at the American Heart Association

Litsa Kranias, PhD, Hanna Professor and Director of cardiovascular biology and co-director of the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence at UC, is among a select group of researchers invited to discuss her contributions to cardiovascular and stroke research at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Chicago 2014 Nov. 15-19.

Kranias, named a 2009 American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist, and other researchers will be honored by the AHA with a special reception.

She identified a genetic variant in a cardiac protein that can be linked to heart rhythm malfunction and sudden cardiac death in dilated cardiomyopathy patients. The study was previously published in the October 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association and she will be presenting new findings in this area along with potential therapeutic venues at the AHA meeting 2014.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump blood. The research by Kranias and her colleagues has opened new possibilities for treatment. Sudden cardiac death is a risk for patients with heart failure who are carriers of this variant in the histidine-rich calcium-binding protein because calcium inside their heart cells is not properly controlled, possibly leading to development of arrhythmias.

Kranias also supervised researchers who found that HAX-1, an anti-cell death protein, plays an important role in protecting cardiac cells and muscle during ischemia-reperfusion injury, or damage to tissue caused by blood restriction. Recently, her team and UC researchers have shown that HAX-1 can also regulate the heart’s pumping action and she will be presenting these findings at the AHA meeting 2014.

“We have found two new genes that are involved in helping the heart keep pumping appropriately,” says Kranias, referring to histidine (HRC) and HAX-1. “We have gone on to discover the mechanisms by which they function in the heart and how they can be good targets in heart failure.”

Scientific Sessions attracts more than 17,000 attendees, with a global presence from more than 100 countries.

Programming is designed to improve patient care by communicating the most timely and significant advances in basic, clinical, translational and population health research, spanning the full spectrum of cardiovascular disease from a variety of perspectives, from prevention, through diagnosis and through treatment.

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