2003 News Stories

Header-Media Links

Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in your body. However, until recently, the mineral's true importance, and the mechanism by which it enters into and comes out of cells, was unknown. Researchers at The Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Signaling, Center for Biomedical Re-search at The Queen's Medical Center and John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai’i, are a part of an international collaboration which made recent discoveries on magnesium and its pathway, or ion channel, through the membrane of cells. The research was published in the journal Cell and featured as its cover article (Vol. 114, 191-200, July 25, 2003). Cell is the world's most prestigious biological science journal.

Reinhold Penner, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Biomedical Research, and Andrea Fleig, PhD, of Queen's Center for Biomedical Research, whose work on ion channels has been previously published in Cell and the journal Nature, provided the electrophysical component of the research. Ongoing studies on the ion channel, called TRPM7, had been conducted by Drs. Penner and Fleig. It was previously suspected that the ion channel regulated the flow of calcium. The recent discoveries revealed that its main function is to transport magnesium, and that calcium is only a byproduct. The overall results of the research indicate that TRPM7 has a central role in magnesium homeostasis.

The importance of magnesium was dramatically demonstrated when the TRPM7 ion channel was blocked in cells. The cells experienced an arrest in growth within 24 hours and eventually died. It was demonstrated that these cells could also be rescued by applying high levels of magnesium. While many previously discovered ion channels are found only in certain types of cells, TRPM7 can be found in every cell of non-plant, multi-cellular organisms, including humans. "In very basic terms, this is the first ion channel discovered in mammals that is absolutely essential to life," said Dr. Fleig.

Researchers hope to fully understand the roles of TRPM7 and other ion channels in relation to diseases. The ultimate goal of the research is to find pharmacological drugs that will inhibit or stimulate the activity of ion channels to possibly stop, reverse or manage diseases. This area of research is currently one of the most promising in terms of curing or influencing the outcome of many major diseases.

Email a Patient

Email a Patient

Would you like to brighten a patient's day with an uplifting message of support? Let them know you're thinking about them by sending a free email message.

Click Here to Get Started 

New Arrivals!

New Arrivals

The Queen's Medical Center has partnered with Mom 360 to capture your newborns’ first moments. New parents can login to view and share those first precious photos.

Visit the Mom 360 Website 

Give to Queen's

Give to Queens

Your donation helps support The Queen’s Medical Center to provide the best quality health care in Hawai’i. Learn more on making your donation at My Gift to Queen’s.

Click Here to Give Today 

Be a Volunteer

Be a Volunteer

Volunteers provide crucial support services that are vital to Queen's and the well-being of its patients. Click below to find out more about becoming a volunteer.

Volunteer Information 

Translation Links

English Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Filipino Japanese Korean Portuguese Spanish Thai Vietnamese

The Queen’s Medical Center is a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit corporation.