CASPER, Wyo — Research conducted at the University of Wyoming could help pave the way for a treatment for a neuromuscular degenerative disease that causes heart failure in humans, the university said in a release Friday.
Wei Guo, an associate professor in UW’s Department of Animal Science from 2013-19, was part of a research group that linked dysregulated ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules to heart failure in gene-edited pigs.
The piglets displayed symptoms of low cardiac output and pulmonary congestion, known as cardiomyopathyis. The study, conducted in 2018, was a collaboration with universities in Texas and Tokyo, among other institutions.
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The UW portion of the research was funded by the American Heart Association. Gun provided materials, methods, experimental design, and manuscript revisions.
UW said at least 3,500 persons in the United States are affected by dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) caused by a mutation in the RNA-protein granules.
“The findings from this research may provide insights into therapeutics in human patients with RBM20 cardiomyopathy. The protein aggregation or granule formation is toxic to the cell,” Guo said. “If further studies decipher the mechanisms of dynamic formation of protein aggregation, a therapeutic strategy can be developed through interruption of granule formation.”
Gun himself identified the RBM20 gene as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a decade ago, UW said.
“Dr. Guo had contributed enormously to the growth of the interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program,” said Sreejayan Nair, a UW professor of pharmacology and director of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program.
“Although his home department was animal science, he mentored students, served on their graduate committees and was instrumental in developing several collaborations across disciplines, which embodies the spirit of the interdepartmental program,” Nair said.
Guo and his former Ph.D. student at UW, Mingming Sun, are co-authors of the paper, titled “Dysregulated Ribonucleoprotein Granules Promote Cardiomyopathy in RBM20 Gene-Edited Pigs,” that was published in the Nov. 13 issue of Nature Medicine, a journal of peer-reviewed research.
Read more about the research at the University of Wyoming website.