3 Minute Thesis: Ngoni Madungwe & Heart Disease Research

3 Minute Thesis: Ngoni Madungwe & Heart Disease Research


To start off, my girlfriend recently broke up with me to take a job in New York so I can safely say that I am walking around with a broken heart.
Is anybody able to relate with me. Not? Okay. That’s fine. Fortunately, I happen to work in a field
of research where the goal of the research that I do is finding ways to
mend broken hearts of a different kind. So heart attacks are one of the leading
causes of death is part of the cardiovascular group of diseases known as
cardiovascular diseases that are the leading cause of death in America and
the rest of the world. Odds are between now and by the time
people turn to the 78th birthday, 1 in 5 people will experience some sort of
cardiac event. So if we start counting off 1 to 5 in this room, you can sort of get
the gist of where I’m going with this. Surprisingly however it is known that
men are more susceptible to experiencing heart
problems Exhibit A—versus women but this is only
before menopause, after menopause the odds of men and women experiencing heart
events is actually equal. So this opened up a whole line of research into the
primary female sex hormone estrogen and how this plays a part in both protection
and in disease and so in particular the estrogen within the heart interacts with 3 primary receptors They are classical receptors
alpha and beta which affect genomic expression and the 3rd recently
discovered receptor which is a g-protein receptor which is the focus of the work
that I do. Within the lab, particularly working with rodents it has
been shown that male mice can actually be protected by giving them estrogen and
activating this g protein receptor before you give it a heart attack in the
lab which is normally called ischemia-reperfusion and so my research
tries to extend this concept of protection by using estrogen by taking
it to see what happened—since we cannot predict when a person would have a heart
attack. So if a person does have a heart attack can we be able to restore
their heart function using estrogen and so as cancer biologists will tell you
estrogen is one of the main culprits when it comes to our breast cancer and
the main reason for this is that it stimulates a lot of proliferation but when it comes to the heart—the heart
is terminally differentiated and non proliferating and so usually I think
about three months after you’re born your heart—the number of our cardio
beating cardiomyocytes in your heart is constant and they simply get bigger and
bigger and so the goal of my research is finding ways to use estrogen to activate
this receptor after somebody has suffered a heart attack and usually with
a heart attack you lose about 25 percent of your heart function and
so if we can find ways to get cardiomyocytes that are in your heart to
start regenerating themselves–this will create a whole new level of therapeutics
that can then be used to treat patients. So currently i have data coming in from
South studies which show that like cells that have been given a steamy
reperfusion which is the lab version of the heart attack actually proliferate
more—are more viable and are less likely to die
considering the damage that has been caught that has been caused by the heart
attack and so future studies seek to take this model over into an animal and
then hopefully in the future would actually move on to clinical trials— we
will then be able to have cell therapy techniques to be able to mend broken
hearts which will then be my second contribution to the field. Thank You.

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