Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the industrialized world. However, it’s not well understood and is challenging to both predict and effectively prevent, according to Alain Karma, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics.
“The drugs that reduce the risk for sudden cardiac death have not been successful,” said Karma, who is the director of Northeastern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Complex Systems. He attributed the drugs’ failure to their design, noting that they are created without consideration of the entire cardiac biological system.
Karma wants to change that. Backed by $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, he and his colleagues at Brown University will study how a particular class of gene mutations in humans significantly increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest by disturbing the heart’s electrical signaling. The work, Karma said, “will help us understand what kind of interventions we can use to move the heart system from an unsafe zone to a safe zone.”