$2M NIH Grant to Study Genetic Mechanisms of Inherited Heart Muscle Disorders
By Anna Zarra Aldrich, UConn
J. Travis Hinson, M.D., a joint faculty member at UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory has received more than $2 million from the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the mechanisms responsible for a serious and often fatal heart condition.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) can cause sudden cardiac death and progressive heart failure. HCM is characterized by a thickening of the heart muscle impeding its ability to pump blood throughout the body.
HCM affects up to 500,000 people in the United States, and is the number one cause of sudden death in young athletes. HCM also accounts for 35-40 percent of cardiomyopathies in children according to the American Heart Association.
There are currently no effective therapies for this lethal condition. One of the major problems that must be addressed in order to develop treatments for HCM is the lack of understanding of the genetic underpinnings responsible for this inherited condition.
Hinson’s project will take a precision medicine approach to study how a series of mutations spread over the MYH7 gene cause heart failure using cardiac microtissues derived from human stem cells.
This research could reveal patient-specific insights into the causes and functioning of HCM, which will in turn allow scientists to identify novel targets for developing therapies. Hinson’s long-term goal for this research is to combine genetic knowledge with 3D cardiac microtissues to develop effective therapies.
“We are excited to generate a more precise understanding of the molecular underpinning of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy through the lens of an entirely human cardiac tissue assay that can be thought of as a human heart-in-a-dish,” Hinson says.
Hinson received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital focusing on cardiovascular medicine. His research utilizes genomic and stem cell approaches to interrogate mechanisms of inherited cardiovascular disorders.
This project is NIH Grant No.: 1 R01 HL142787-01