State - Wayne State U. researchers seeking wild turkey hearts

DETROIT (AP) -- Medical researchers at Wayne State University have asked hunters in the state to donate the hearts of harvested wild turkeys for researching heart disease and congestive heart failure.

The National Wild Turkey Federation recently joined the Detroit school is making the appeal. Researchers hope that tests using wild turkey hearts could lead to medical breakthroughs for combating heart problems in humans.

"There is a mutation in the heart of a wild turkey that lowers the incidence of heart disease and congestive heart failure," Tim Kwiecien, a Wayne State premedical student, said in a statement. "By donating the hearts of harvested wild turkeys for our research, turkey hunters can help us make strides."

Professor Jian-Ping Jin, chairman of the Department of Physiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine, is working with Kwiecien. They plan to further analyze the heart mutation this summer.

"We are using turkey hearts because it would be nearly impossible to conduct this type of analysis in human hearts while practicing ethical standards," Kwiecien said. "Also, this particular mutation is only found in a few animals, and wild turkey hearts are the most practical for this type of study."

Kwiecien is seeking to confirm previously published data that analyzed only three wild turkey hearts. He is seeking at least 30 turkey hearts from hunters for the project, but will accept more if possible.

Michigan's spring turkey hunting season began earlier this month and is scheduled to run until May 31. Directions on how to preserve and ship turkey hearts are posted on the National Wild Turkey Federation's website.

"Helping with heart research at Wayne State University is just another opportunity for us to lend a hand," said Steve Sharp, regional field supervisor in Michigan for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Michigan also has a fall turkey hunting season.

Published: Tue, Apr 27, 2010

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