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Telomeres & Heart Disease

April 4, 2017

Medical researchers make strides in fighting a widespread heart condition.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

What turns heart valves to bone? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As people age, the heart’s aortic valve can become calcified and stiff – a fatal condition unless the valve is replaced. In the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gladstone Institute cardiologist Deepak Srivastava and his colleagues report that the culprit may be short telomeres –  those are the protective caps on our chromosomes. He says that mice have long telomeres, and never get the disease.

DEEPAK SRIVASTAVA (Gladstone Institute, UC San Francisco):

And what we found was when we made those shorter, to be similar to humans, then lo and behold, the mice have exactly the same disease as humans do.

HIRSHON:

Somehow, the short telomeres cause some heart cells to begin secreting calcium, as if they’re bone cells. The discovery has enabled the team to develop a potential therapy that may prevent this common and sometimes lethal condition. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon