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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Professor: Fix heart by bolstering immune system

    Science and Technology

    As the human body gets older and weaker, so does its immune system and heart.

    This aging process can contribute to heart failure, which claims yearly more than a half-million lives in the United States. At present, there is no cure or good therapy for the affliction.

    Ronald Watson, a public health professor, believes that rather than treating heart disease, lives can be saved by treating the immune system first.

    “”We need a new theory to be able to provide a cure,”” he said. “”And with that theory new drugs can be made.””

    Earlier this year, Watson was awarded a patent for a treatment to aid in immune dysfunction after a nine-year wait. It was the first patent to go to the College of Public Health and his second, an achievement because the UA received only 15 patents total in 2007, he said.

    The award came after a breakthrough he realized along with a team of researchers including Douglas Larson, a surgery professor, and Elham Vali Khojeini and Sherma Zibadi, both doctoral students in nutritional sciences.

    Last year, Watson and Larson co-edited the first book regarding a link between immune dysfunction and heart disease.

    “”The way we found it was an accident,”” Watson said. “”We were treating mice that had AIDS and noticed a change in the immune system.””

    Watson’s team then took mice that had heart disease and treated them with a peptide treatment that has since been patented.

    “”The treatment substantially slowed down development of heart disease in mice,”” Watson said. “”If you treat the immune system you also treat the heart.””

    In order for the treatment to be tested on humans suffering from heart failure, the research team needs to get the proper funding, Watson said.

    The research team is currently developing models of obesity, which causes heart disease. The team is testing the treatment on obese animals.

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