Discovery links enzyme with atherosclerosis and aging

    VANCOUVER, Nov. 5 /CNW/ - Providence Health Care researcher Dr. David
Granville has made a series of discoveries that could have a major impact not
only on the treatment of cardiovascular disease, but also on other conditions
associated with aging, including hair loss.
    Dr. Granville presented his findings yesterday at the American Heart
Association Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida-the world's largest
gathering of heart researchers - as a finalist for the Louis N. and Arnold M.
Katz Basic Science Research Prize.
    The key to his discoveries is new knowledge of granzyme B, an enzyme that
plays an important role in the immune system. In studies of human tissue
conducted at the Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St. Paul's Hospital,
Dr. Granville's research team found that levels of granzyme B were
significantly elevated in patients with atherosclerosis.
    Using mouse models of aging and atherosclerotic disease, Dr. Granville
and his research team discovered when this enzyme's expression was blocked,
atherosclerosis could be reduced by over 70 per cent. Atherosclerosis is the
underlying cause of most heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms and complications
arising from diabetes. It is the world's leading cause of death in those over
    Graduate student Rani Cruz also discovered that granzyme B may play a
role in hair loss and aging. During experiments in which the expression of
this enzyme was blocked in mice they did not appear to age, developed much
denser fur and had a significantly longer lifespan.
    Granzyme B is released by many immune cells to target and destroy
virus-infected cells. Until recently, it was thought that immune cells
delivered granzyme B directly into cells targeted for destruction. But Dr.
Granville has demonstrated that in certain conditions it is also released by
immune cells into the space around healthy cells and in the plasma.
    When this occurs, it destroys key structural proteins that surround the
healthy cells, which Dr. Granville compares to termites eating away at the
infrastructure of a home. This can lead, for example, to a loss of the
structural integrity and elasticity of blood vessels and ultimately,
atherosclerosis. Dr. Granville is working with UBC and has filed a number of
patents related to this research.
    Dr. Granville, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor/Canada Research
Chair/MSFHR Scholar at the University of British Columbia and the, Providence
Heart and Lung Institute at St. Paul's, part of the Providence Health Care
Research Institute. In 2004, he was chosen as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40
by Caldwell Partners International. His research is funded by the Michael
Smith Foundation for Health Research, the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon.

For further information:

For further information: Contact: Gavin Wilson, Providence Health Care
Communications, Tel. (604) 806-8583, Cel. (604) 312-4839

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