News Release

January 4, 2011

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

UConn Cardiologists Uncover New Heart Attack Warning Sign

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Cardiologists at the University of Connecticut Health Center have identified a protein fragment that when detected in the blood can be a predictor of heart attack.

Their research, led by Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, is published in the January 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It found heart attack patients had elevated levels of the protein fragment known as Caspase-3 p17 in their blood.

“We’ve discovered a new biomarker for heart attack, and showed that apoptosis, or a particular kind of cell death, is a cause of heart muscle damage,” Liang says. “The ability to see a heart attack coming with a simple blood test and to develop new therapies to block apoptosis would enable us to get a head start on treatment and preserve crucial heart muscle and cardiac function.”

If it is successfully applied one day, researchers say the discovery would mean another way to diagnose heart attack and the possible development of new treatment.

The article is available online at

Co-investigators include Drs. Mariela Agosto, Michael Azrin and Kanwar Singh from the UConn Health Center and Dr. Allan Jaffe from the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota.

Caption: Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Calhoun Cardiology Center, is lead author in a study of a protein fragment that is a likely biomarker for heart attack. The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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