PENN researchers find how heme harms – And how to prevent the damage
Heme, the iron-bearing, oxygen-carrying core of hemoglobin, makes it possible for blood to carry oxygen, but researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have determined how free-floating heme can also make traumatic events worse by damaging tissue. The Penn researchers present their findings in the October 2nd issue of the journal Nature. Fortunately, the researchers also identified a chemical that can be targeted by drug developers to impede the deleterious effects of free-floating heme.
Following a traumatic event – such as an accident, a stroke, a heart attack or even surgery – heme floods the spaces between and inside cells and exacerbates the damage. It does so by shutting down an important cell membrane channel, an action that kills neurons and constricts blood vessels. While investigating this process, the researchers also determined that a chemical called NS1619 restores the function of the cell membrane channel. NS1619 and its derivatives could be the source for a new drug – one that prevents the secondary events that worsen trauma damage.
Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
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