Breast cancer gene mutations may also lead to heart problems

The Globe and Mail

Dr. Subodh Verma's research team have discovered evidence that a genetic mutation linked to higher rates of breast cancer may also play a critical role in regulating proper heart function.

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St. Michael's and King Saud Receive First Joint Patent


St. Michael’s Hospital and King Saud University have received their first joint U.S. patent to use the BRCA1 gene as a therapy for cardiovascular disease.


Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon at St. Michael’s, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Omran, a vascular surgeon at the largest university in Saudi Arabia, are named as inventors on patent US 8, 110,185 B2 issued Feb. 7.


Obtaining the patent is an initial step in realizing the potential of this innovative approach to treating one of the leading causes of death in Canada,


Dr. Verma’s team published three papers in 2011, in Nature Communications, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Gene Therapy, showing how the  BRCA1 and 2 genes, which normally suppresses the growth of breast and ovarian tumours, also protect the heart.


Following a heart attack, mice with the mutated BRCA1 gene had a three-to-five times higher rate of death. This was largely due to the development of profound heart failure and poor DNA damage repair, leading to larger and more severe heart attacks.


Dr. Verma said the mutated BRCA1 gene may prevent DNA repair in muscle cells that is essential to recovery after a heart attack.


“The patent is also significant because it demonstrates how collaborative research between St. Michael’s and King Saud University can help speed the transfer of medical discoveries from the laboratory bench to patient bedsides,” said Dr. Arthur Slutsky, vice-president of research.


Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award


We are very pleased to announce that Krishna Kumar Singh, PhD from Dr Subodh Verma's research laboratory at            St Michael's Hospital, has received the prestigious 2009 Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award from the American Heart Association for their work elucidating the role of the tumour suppressor gene BRCA1 as a regulator of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis.