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U scientists develop 'calcium sponge' to combat heart failure

University of Minnesota researchers have developed a “calcium sponge” that could one day be used to combat diastolic heart failure, a common killer of men and women nationwide.

In diastolic heart failure, cardiac cells’ calcium levels rise to the peak needed for the squeezing action of the heart, but then they don’t drop quickly enough for an efficient relaxation period.

To solve that problem, scientists in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology and the Lillehei Heart Institute used molecular genetic engineering to produce an optimized protein called Parve101Q, which soaks up excess calcium, allowing the heart to relax properly after a contraction.

The next step will be determining the best method of delivering the protein.

“Heart disease and heart failure rates are growing, especially as our population ages,” says Joseph Metzger, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. We hope this type of discovery may one day help pave the way to a better way to treat patients.”

The study’s results were reported in the Feb. 10 online edition of Nature Medicine.

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