When the heart is contracting effectively, calcium is able to circulate efficiently in and out of the cells in a process known as “calcium cycling”. If this process becomes impaired, calcium becomes dysregulated and the rate at which cardiac muscle can pump out blood decreases – this can therefore lead to development of heart failure.
The team that underwent research to find new treatments for failure found that DWORF (a micropeptide known as “dwarf open reading frame”) could displace a molecule called phospholamban, which inhibits SERCA activity – SERCA is a target molecule that transports calcium ions, ensuring the relaxation of the heart muscle – when SSERCA doesn’t function properly, heart failure occurs. This means that DWORF is able to help boost SERCA, which ultimately means the heart can regain its ability to contract and relax efficiently.
The researchers tested this molecule on rodents, and they found that ‘By comparing genetically engineered rodents with normal ones, the scientists noticed that the mice with higher DWORF levels had better calcium cycling than regular mice.’
This new discovery will hopefully be developed on in the future, making it an attractive candidate for a gene therapy drug for heart failure.
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