Thanks in large part to research conducted at East Carolina University and its Brody School of Medicine, Eastern North Carolina has easily earned a reputation as a hotbed of health care and life sciences innovation.
The university is a leader in areas such as cardiovascular care, obesity and diabetes treatment, and its awards for cutting-edge health science research average more than $49 million per year.
Jitka Virag, a professor of physiology within ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, has been studying a protein in the heart believed to help limit the damage to the heart caused by heart attacks.
“Heart attacks are the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and there is no cure. We have discovered that ephrinA1, a protein found in healthy cardiomyocytes in mouse (and human) hearts, can be administered at the time of onset to reduce the injury that occurs during a heart attack,” Virag says. “Although we have a long way to go to move this into the translational realm, there is great potential to save lives and promote well-being in susceptible populations. This will hopefully include those with additional chronic health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which are prevalent conditions in Eastern North Carolina.”