The Myocarditis Foundation Awards Two Research Grants in 2012

The Myocarditis Foundation is pleased to announce that it will be funding two research fellowship grants for the 2013/14 grant cycle.  The Myocarditis Foundation will be funding a research grant awarded to Dr. Chandirasegaran Massilamany of the University of Lincoln in the amount of $35,000 and have co-sponsored a grant with the American Heart Association awarded to Brian Avanzino of the University of California Davis in the amount of $50,000, half of which will be funded by the Myocarditis Foundation.

The Myocarditis Foundation, an international non-profit organization founded in 2005, is dedicated to increasing awareness and hastening progress in understanding this rare disease. Myocarditis is a disease that is marked by inflammation and scarring of the heart muscle, which can progress rapidly to heart failure, and death or heart transplantation.

The Myocarditis Foundation announced in third quarter 2012 that it was accepting Grant Applications until December 2012. Their international Medical Advisory Board, made up of leading myocarditis researchers from around the world, selected the these two grant recipients from a distinguished field of candidates.

Dr. Chandirasegaran Massilamany of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln
Dr. Chandirasegaran Massilamany of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln

Dr. Massilamany’s research project, titled “Delineating the Role of Cardiac Myosin-Specific CD8 T Cells in Autoimmune Myocarditis” will bring great strides to the medical understanding of myocarditis.

“Enteroviruses like coxsackievirus B3 (CVB) are common suspects in patients with myocarditis/dilated cardiomyopathy.  Previously, it was shown that autoreactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes, also called CD8 T cells, have a role in the mediation of myocarditis induced by coxsackievirus B3. But identification of their target antigens in cardiac tissues continued to be a challenge – this is the challenge, this proposal will begin to address.

The goal of this research is to demonstrate that CD8 T cells can induce autoimmune myocarditis in susceptible mice by recognizing cardiac myosin as the target antigen.  The proposed research may provide a basis for future investigations into the role of cardiac-reactive T cells that might be generated in cardiomyopathy patients as a result of exposure to CVB.”

                                                      – Summary by Dr. Massilamany

Mr. Brian Avanzino of the University of California Davis
Mr. Brian Avanzino of the University of California Davis

Mr. Avanzino’s research project, titled “Regulation of Cardiovirulent Picornaviral Protein Synthesis” shows strong promise in the field of myocarditis research.

“Our research is aimed at understanding how certain picornaviruses, including Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3), take over a host cell’s translation machinery to produce viral proteins. These viruses produce proteins under conditions when host cell protein synthesis is shut off. We have identified a novel interaction between part of the CVB3 genome and the host cell factors responsible for protein synthesis, and we are investigating how this interaction may influence the kinetics of viral protein production. Insight into the relevance of this interaction will reveal the importance of this element during the viral lifecycle, and ultimately, the ability of the CVB3 to infect its host. Understanding how these viruses use host cell factors may lead to the identification of new targets for antiviral therapies.”

-Summary by Mr. Avanzino

The Myocarditis Foundation is honored to work with both individuals and their institutions, furthering the expansion of myocarditis research and its network.  It is the Foundation’s goal to build a greater understanding of the disease and find better ways to diagnose, treat, and ultimately prevent myocarditis, all in an effort to save more lives.

The Myocarditis Foundation would like to thank all the families, businesses, and organizations that have supported the Foundation in 2012, because it is with their efforts that these two grants have been awarded.  They also are honored to be working with the American Heart Association; an organization dedicated building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

For more information about the American Heart Association, please visit: www.heart.org.