The University of Nebraska Medical Center is part of a seven-university consortium working on a three-year, $8.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to map the heart’s nervous system.
The group’s goal – to conduct research that leads to new ways to treat cardiovascular disease by targeting nerves in the heart.
Dr. Irving H. Zucker is professor and chair of the UNMC Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology. Zucker is the principal investigator for the UNMC component.
"Many people succumb to life-threatening arrhythmias and I think understanding how these nerve endings participate in that scenario will help us target new therapies.”
The UNMC team will be using drug agents that target ion channels on those nerve endings.
Zucker says these drugs can target the channels and destroy the negative influences of these nerves on rhythm disturbances.
The award UNMC received is from an NIH program called Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions, which supports research on how the electrical signals of the peripheral nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body control internal organ function.