June 15th, 2011.
A large contingent of scientists from the HRI attended the 7th International Human Peroxidase Meeting from May 22-25, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. Members of the Free Radical and Inflammation Groups presented both posters and talks at the premier international conference on this important family of human enzymes, intricately linked to heart health.
Peroxidase is an important family of human enzymes, intricately linked to heart health. A member of this family, MPO, releases powerful compounds that attack the source of an infection, but sometimes healthy proteins and tissue can be accidentally damaged, causing disease. Studies have shown that levels of MPO in the blood correlate with an increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Tessa Barrett from the Inflammation Group focuses on one of the compounds made by MPO, hypothiocyanous acid (HOSCN). In her PhD studies, she has found that excess HOSCN can damage enzymes which are critical to keep cells healthy. The production of HOSCN is exacerbated by cigarette smoking. Tessa was judged to have the Best Abstract by a PhD student in the Young Scientist Session, and received a travel grant to attend the prestigious conference.
Also from the Inflammation Group, Dr Kate Hadfield presented her findings on how HOSCN can damage good cholesterol, which is known to be protective in heart disease.
Tracey Kajer, a PhD student from the Free Radical Group, is exploring ways to keep levels of MPO in check. Her initial findings suggest that therapeutic doses of common paracetamol might lower the levels of the damaging agents produced by MPO, thus providing protection for patients at risk of cardiovascular disease. This theory is being tested in clinical trials.
Two senior post-doctoral scientists from the Free Radical Group, Dave Pattison and Philip Morgan, presented their work. Dr Pattison is studying the speed at which enzymes like MPO produce their damaging species, including free radicals. This knowledge will provide insight into how these species damage human tissue, and will assist in designing compounds or drugs to potentially stop reactions and prevent damage. Dr Philip Morgan presented the findings from a study of 178 heart attack patients which showed that increased production of HOSCN by MPO leads to specific damage to proteins, which is associated with increased mortality.
Free Radical Group Leader, Professor Mike Davies, was invited to speak on the link between high circulating blood levels of MPO and increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.
The International Human Peroxidase Meeting, held every two years, is the premier international conference on peroxidase. The HRI Free Radical and Inflammation groups will host the 2013 meeting in Sydney.
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