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LIMR researchers awarded $2.5 million to fight life-threatening heart conditions

Lankenau Medical Center July 13, 2020 Research News
Last Updated on July 13, 2020

Investigators at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), the research division of Main Line Health, were awarded a $2.5 million, four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their proposal to develop a whole heart model of the J wave syndromes and novel therapeutic approaches for the cardiac arrhythmias caused by the disorders.

Early repolarization syndrome (ERS) and Brugada syndrome(BS), two manifestations of the J wave syndromes, are associated with vulnerability to development of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation leading to sudden cardiac death in young adults—especially young men — who have no apparent structural heart disease. These cardiac conditions also can lead to sudden infant death syndrome.

The LIMR investigators awarded the grant from the NIH are Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, professor and executive director of cardiovascular research at LIMR and director of research at Lankenau Heart Institute; and Jose Di Diego, MD, research associate professor in Dr. Antzelevitch’s laboratory. 

“Our principal aim for this research is to develop a whole heart model of BrS and ERS to advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of these syndromes,” said Dr. Antzelevitch. “We will also follow up on earlier research that pointed to potential pharmacologic approaches to these life-threatening disorders for which treatment options currently are very limited.” 

For this research, NIH has awarded LIMR $2.5 million, which will cover 70% of the project’s estimated cost. Non-governmental sources will fund approximately $1 million, or 30%, of the project.

This has been a milestone year for Dr. Antzelevitch. Earlier this year he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology, a non-profit medical association, for his groundbreaking research into arrhythmias.

He also was ranked by Expertscape in the top 0.1 percent of scholars writing about electrocardiography and 13th out of about 72,000 scientists and physicians worldwide in the field of electrocardiography and cardiac electrophysiology. And he was ranked second in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Antzelevitch has a long history of pioneering biomedical advancements regarding the J wave syndromes. In 2015,he and fellow LIMR researcher Gan-Xin Yan, MD, PhD, convened a consensus conference to update the global scientific and clinical communities on the mechanisms, diagnosis, prognosis,risk stratification, and treatment of J wave syndromes. And in 2016, the report of the J-Wave Expert Consensus Conference was published simultaneously in three biomedical journals, a highly unusual occurrence that speaks to the importance of their work. 

For more on Dr. Antzelevitch’s research, visit https://www.mainlinehealth.org/research/lankenau-institute-for-medical-research/researchers/our-faculty/charles-antzelevitch

About Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center and is part of Main Line Health. Founded in 1927, LIMR’s mission is to improve human health and well-being. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to formidable medical challenges, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. LIMR’s principal investigators conduct basic, preclinical and translational research, using their findings to explore ways to improve disease detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They are committed to extending the boundaries of human health through technology transfer and training of the next generation of scientists and physicians.