National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $1.5 million grant to
researchers Vadim V. Fedorov, Cynthia A. Carnes
and Peter Mohler to find improved
therapies to treat problems with the sinus node. This small tissue made of approximately
1,000 cells acts like the brain of the heart, controlling when and how it beats.
the standard of care includes an electronic pacemaker to regulate the heart rate.
While the device works well for the approximately 3 million people who have one,
there are drawbacks.
a pacemaker is the necessary remedy at this time, but really it’s a crutch,”
said Fedorov, a researcher in Ohio State’s Department of
Physiology and Cell Biology. “The lack of understanding of the human pacemaker
system, the sinoatrial node (SAN), and its complexity remains a critical
barrier to treating heart rhythm disorders. The SAN knows when to beat faster
during exercise or slower during sleep, but an electronic pacemaker beats
steadily. With this grant award, we seek to restore and heal the SAN, rather
than rely on pacemakers as the remedy,” Fedorov said.
they can begin healing the SAN, the three co-investigators say they must first
know how, why and where the SAN is failing. They hypothesize that SAN
dysfunction may result from an increased sensitivity to adenosine, a metabolite
that lowers the heart rate and conductivity in the heart. The team is first
working to block the adenosine receptor to test the theory that heart failure
results from adenosine-dependent signaling in the SAN.
breakthrough in this research came through partnership with The Ohio State University Wexner
which provides damaged human hearts from consenting transplant cases.
is the goal of translational research. We’re now able to study damaged human
hearts, something that was just a dream five years ago,” said Peter Mohler,
director of the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute. “To solve
the disease, you really need the right source of tissue,
and we’re one of only a few groups in the world that can study sinus node disease
in human hearts, beyond simply mice and molecules.”
with this unique access, the team is using customized, advanced technology
designed by Fedorov – a system of 3D high-resolution near-infrared optical
mapping - to give them the enhanced images they need.
a professor in Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy, adds that it’s Ohio
State’s unique ability to collaborate across multiple colleges and the Wexner
Medical Center that has afforded this opportunity.
built a first-class operation with bench-to-bedside research in arrhythmias at
Ohio State,” Carnes said. “Teamwork is integral to everything we do and this
research project is a great example of that.”
Carnes, and Mohler agree it may be years before they can turn their research
toward therapies to heal the SAN, including new drug development or perhaps
localized stem cell therapy.
than 2 million Americans have sinoatrial node issues, which can be congenital
or develop with age.
high-quality photo of Peter Mohler is available at: http://go.osu.edu/VC2
high-quality photo of Vadim Fedorov is available at: http://go.osu.edu/bb3
Contact: Marti Leitch, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media
Relations, 614-293-3737 or Marti.Leitch@osumc.edu