Heart and heart disease – University of Copenhagen

Major research results regarding the heart and heart disease

The heart is a pump vital to life. Its rhythmic contractions circulate fresh blood to the rest of the body throughout life. The University of Copenhagen conducts world class heart research. Landmark discoveries have been made of importance both to congenital heart malformations, heart rhythm disorders, and age-related heart conditions. The research is carried out in the overlaps between basic research at molecular and cellular level, clinical research on patients and register-based population studies

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Worn-out cells increase the risk of heart attacks and premature death

All of the body's cells wear out with age, but also with lifestyle choices such as smoking and obesity. Researchers have long believed that worn out cells increase the risk of heart attacks and premature death. Two major Danish population studies have now proved that this is the case and provide doctors with a way to test a person's actual cellular age.

Sodium kanalImportance of ion channels for cardiac functions

Researchers have found out that cardiac impulse is controlled by molecular pores in the cells of the heart muscle called ion channels. Genetic defects in these ion channels can cause the rhythm of the heart to be disturbed. A new chemical tool called pharmacological modulation forms the background for several scientific breakthroughs because it is the first time anyone has shown that pharmacological modulation of these types of ion channels can have a beneficial effect on diseases. 

Det menneskelige hjerteMolecular communication network linking risk factors for congenital heart malformation

Congenital heart malformations are the most common form of congenital malformation at global level and this is due to defects in the molecular mechanisms that control the development of the heart during pregnancy. By combining genome research and systems biology with functional studies in cell models and zebra fish, a group of researchers is studying the genes and molecular signalling mechanisms that cause heart malformations. The group has identified a substantial part of the molecular communication networks, which control the development of the heart, and has shown that these complex networks are the biological common denominator that links together hundreds of risk factors for heart malformation. Research into these processes is of great importance for future diagnostics, prevention and treatment of congenital heart malformations. The new knowledge will improve the possibilities of treating myocardial infarction with stem cells.