In clinic, cardiologist Sudarshan Rajagopal, MD, PhD, has no means to cure most patients with pulmonary hypertension, not the narrowing of blood vessels in their lungs, not damage done to their hearts.
The physician-scientist can prescribe medicines that extend the lives of many patients, but the precious gains can come with unwelcome costs.
“All these drugs help open blood vessels in the lungs and help treat heart failure. But they can have horrible side effects,” Rajagopal says, including nausea, diarrhea, weight loss and other side effects.
But help may come from complex pharmacology studies that Rajagopal first encountered at Duke in the laboratory of Nobel Prize winner Robert Lefkowitz, MD.