November 2014

SMMS Principle Investigator and Conway Institute Researcher Wins Irish Cardiac Society Award

Mon, 10 November 14 14:37

Dr Watson’s study showed that cardiac tissue damage, such as cardiac fibrosis and cardiac hypertrophy, was related to increased levels of an epigenetic process known as DNA methylation. This process causes modification of gene expression in cells. However, this damaging effect was reversed when cardiac muscle tissue was treated with 5-azacytidine (5-aza), a drug that stops DNA methylation. The effects were observed in both in vitro and in vivo models.

These research findings presented at the 2014 Irish Cardiac Society conference formed the basis of Dr Watson’s recent funding award of €533,000 from Enterprise Ireland which will enable him to build a commercial case for epigenetic modifying therapy for the treatment of cardiomyopathies.

Dr Watson explained

This study highlights the potential value of adopting a therapeutic approach that targets epigenetic processes in the treatment of heart diseases associated with cardiac fibrosis and hypertrophy. Currently there are no therapies on the market that directly target this process. Most approaches target the risk factors that drive cardiac disease without directly modifying the heart tissue or addressing the underlying disease mechanisms.

The Irish Cardiac Society annual Young Investigator Award was renamed this year as the Brian Maurer Young Investigator Award in honour of Dr. Brian Maurer who passed away in 2013. Dr. Maurer, a cardiologist in St Vincent’s University Hospital until his retirement and a past president of the Irish Cardiac Society, worked tirelessly to promote and further cardiology practice and research throughout his career. The award is supported by Servier Laboratories Ireland and is aimed at promoting quality and original research among young cardiology researchers.  

Caption (Pictured L-R): Dr. Donal Murray, Irish Cardiac Society; Mr. Yann Mazeman, Servier Laboratories; Mrs. Timmie Maurer; Dr. Chris Watson, UCD Conway Institute.

Original article by UCD Conway Institute