BRCA1, which is mutated in some familial breast and ovarian cancers, can protect heart cells from damage reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These findings suggest that individuals with a mutation in BRCA1 may be at risk for chemotherapy-induced cardiac failure. Subdoh Verma and colleagues show that mice lacking BRCA1 in heart cells were healthy but when the heart was damaged by myocardial infarction the mice died more frequently than normal mice. When treated with the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin mice lacking BRCA1 also had poorer cardiac function and some cells underwent cell death. They could show reduced repair of DNA damage in the hearts of mice after myocardial infarction and doxorubicin treatment. Their findings suggest that BRCA1 may be of therapeutic use in heart failure and that familial breast and ovarian cancer patients with BRCA1 mutations may be at an increased risk of cardiac failure associated with the use of the chemotherapeutic agent anthracycline.
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