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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

High rate of unrecognized heart problems in apparently healthy people

Researchers from the UK have just reported in the Postgraduate Medical Journal that unrecognized heart problems are surprisingly common in apparently healthy middle-aged people. 
The study used standard heart scans by echocardiography to look at heart valves and heart muscle in 362
Echo machine with image of the heart
men and women in England aged 50 – 74 years
without known heart disease. 178 -  almost half -  had abnormalities of a valve or muscle or irregular heart beat. Many had more than one cardiac abnormality.
Premature cardiovascular disease in a leading cause of death in the western world.   Despite the decline in the rates of mortality, largely due to reduction of deaths from ischaemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease remains an important cause of death. This is at least partly related to the fact that a number of patients with cardiac conditions remain largely undiagnosed and present late in the natural history, missing the window where maximum benefit could be offered with timely intervention.
Study author Cardiologist Constantinos Missouris said:
“Patterns of heart disease are changing, with rheumatic heart disease becoming less common but an increase in rates of degenerative valve disorders, heart failure and serious arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation. Our study shows that unrecognised cardiac abnormalities are very common in middle-aged men and women with no overt symptoms. Echo offers a simple way to identify the need for early medical intervention.”
Clinical Pharmacologist Donald Singer and co-author of the study added:
“Finding effective ways to identify and treat people with unrecognized heart problems is vital to reduce the risk and severity of preventable heart disease.  Our results point to the need for doctors and patients to be more aware of the risk of heart problems and how to detect and treat them
Notes for editors

Postgraduate Medical Journal is an international medical journal owned by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine. The PMJ has published papers and reviews on many of the important medical advances over the past 90 years. The PMJ publishes work on clinical medicine, with the aim of educating medical professionals, junior doctors, teachers and clinicians.

The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, founded in 1918, pioneered educational programmes in all branches of postgraduate medicine. The FPM publishes 2 international journals: the Postgraduate Medical Journal since 1925 and Health Policy and Technology since 2012.

Further information
Donald Singer
President, Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, London, UK

Tel. +44 7447 441 666

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Research finds new target in search for why statin drugs may cause problems for some patients

10th February, 2016
Research by the University of Warwick, the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW), and Tangent Reprofiling Limited, has discovered that statin drugs interact with a gap junction protein called GJC3 that releases ATP, a major signaling molecule for inflammation in the body.  This discovery provides a significant new target in the search for why statin drugs can sometimes cause harmful effects such as muscle toxicity in some patients.
GJC3 gap junction proteins
Speaking on behalf of the team in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, Dr Andrew Marsh said:
“Statins are powerful cholesterol-lowering medicines that are widely prescribed to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. Gap junction proteins are important in forming communication channels between cells and organs in the body. In this new research, two clinically used statin therapeutics have been found to interact with an important part of GJC3, a gap junction protein which acts to release ATP, a signaling molecule that is key to the body’s response to injury and inflammation.
“Many people know ATP as the cell’s main energy transfer molecule, but when released outside cells, ATP coordinates how tissues including our liver and muscles deal with recovery from injury. These results may give us better understanding of how some of the harmful effects of statins in some patients, such as muscle toxicity, might come about”.
The new research paper entitled “Simvastatin sodium salt and fluvastatin interact with human gap junction gamma-3 protein is published on Wednesday 10th February 2016 in the open access journal PLOS ONE. The study was a collaboration between scientists and clinicians at the University of Warwick, the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) and Tangent Reprofiling Limited.
The researchers found that the statins simvastatin sodium salt and fluvastatin were found to interact with a peptide from the gap junction protein GJC3. In work which confirmed the observed interaction, the researchers also found that certain pharmacological probes of other gap junction proteins are also bound to the peptide sequence they had identified. The orange colour in the Figure highlights the important portions of GJC3 gap junction proteins.
University of Warwick research chemist Dr Andrew Marsh also said that
“GJC3 is present in many tissues in the body, but its role in cell signaling is poorly understood. Our work opens doors to its investigation”.
Professor Donald Singer, President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine and who was the lead investigator of the teams working on this study in Warwick Medical School and UHCW commented
“Finding additional ways in which statins act at the cellular and molecular level is important for giving clues to potential new medical applications for these drugs. 
"These results may also give us better understanding of how some of the harmful effects of statins in some patients might come about”.
Notes for editors:
The research refers to the open access journal PLOS ONE paper, 10 Feb 2016 and the paper was entitled Simvastatin sodium salt and fluvastatin interact with human gap junction gamma-3 protein”. PLOS ONE publishes work from science and medicine and “facilitates the discovery of connections between research whether within or between disciplines”.
The work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, UK), the University of Warwick and Tangent Reprofiling Limited. EPSRC’s vision is “for the UK to be the most dynamic and stimulating environment in which to engage in research and innovation.”
Equipment used in this research was obtained through Birmingham Science City: Innovative Uses for Advanced Materials in the Modern World with support from Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
For further information please contact:
Dr Andrew Marsh,
Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL. Tel. +44 24 7652 4565


 Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy,
 University of Warwick, Tel UK: 024 76523708 office 07767 655860 mobile
 Tel Overseas: +44 (0)24 76523708 office +44 (0)7767 655860 mobile/cell

PR31 PJD 9th February 2016

Enter for the £500 Young Poets award in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

There is still time if you wish to take part or to let young poet friends know about the award, entries close at 12 midnight GMT on 29th February, 2016.

Visit here to find out how to enter for the 2016 Hippocrates Young Poets Prize
 for Poetry and Medicine.

The annual Hippocrates Young Poets Prize for Poetry and Medicine is a £500 award for a single unpublished poem in English of up to 50 lines on a medical theme. 

The Hippocrates Young Poets Prize is open to anyone in the world aged 14 – 18 years.

2015 Hippocrates Prize winners: From the USA - Maya Catharine Popa (Open Award) and Parisa Thepmankorn (Young Poets Award) and Kate Compston from the UK (NHS Award)
Winning and commended poems in the Young Poets Prize are published in the annual Hippocrates Prize Anthology.

Shortlists for the Open, NHS and Young Poets awards in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine will be announced by the judges in early March.

Since it was founded in 2012, there has been interest in the Hippocrates Young Poets Prize from 15 countries, with winners and commended poets from the UK, USA and Canada.

The annual Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world with a prize fund of £500 for the Young Poets award and £5500 for winning poems in its Open International and  UK NHS Awards.

Awards will be presented in April 2016 at a ceremony in London. Winning and commended poems are published in the annual Hippocrates Prize Anthology. The awards have received widespread press and broadcast media coverage.

        Hippocrates Prize co-organiser Donald Singer said:
       "Engaging with health through poetry can provide valuable support for patients and their families."

        Poet and Hippocrates judge Wendy French said:
        "My experience as poet-in-residence at the MacMillan Cancer Centre shows how patients undergoing palliative care can find helpful support from engaging in poetry.”

Poet Wendy French, Harvard physician and poet Rafael Campo, and Gareth Powell, Secretary of the Methodist Church, are judges for the 2016 Hippocrates Prize for poetry and medicine international and UK NHS awards.
The Prize is run by the Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine, which received the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts for its work on the synergy between medicine, the arts and health.