A sodium surprise

Jonathan Silva, Jeanne Nerbonne, Sodium Ion Channels

Engineers find unexpected results during cardiac research. This article features CBAC members Jonathan Silva, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Jeanne Nerbonne, Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research at Washington University’s School of Medicine.

Silva, Nerbonne and Zoltan Varga from the University of Debrecen in Hungary worked with collaborators to take a closer look at the sodium ion channels responsible for creating the electrical signal that makes the heartbeat.They found that certain sodium subunits attached to the main protein in different places. It was an unexpected result that could lead to better drug delivery and efficacy for patients with heart arrhythmia.