One of the pernicious effects of cardiovascular disease is that it creates scar tissue on the heart, which in turn disrupts normal pumping of a person’s blood, a phenomenon that can lead to heart failure due to cardiovascular disease. However, according to News Medical Net, a researcher at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center may have found a way to address this problem using a cancer drug.
Dr. Lawrence Lum, Associate Professor of Cell Biology, was working on a drug that would target a molecule that promotes tissue regeneration, which can contribute to the growth of cancer tumors. The so-called Porcupine enzyme is essential for the operation of this molecule. Lurn and his team noticed something strange about a porcupine enzyme inhibitor they had developed in that it caused the number of dividing heart muscle cells to increase. The inhibitor could be used for regeneration of heart muscles after a heart attack, avoiding much of the scarring that takes place.
To test the theory, Lurn induced heart attacks in mice and then treated them with the inhibitor. Not only did normal heart action return far more than would ordinarily be the case, but scarring was decreased as well. The inhibitor would only have to be used for a short time, thus lessening any side effects.
The next step for the development of the heart regeneration drug will be to go into clinical trials which Lurn hopes will occur within the next year or so. If and when the inhibitor becomes available in a clinical setting, deaths from heart failure could be vastly diminished even for those patients who have suffered heart attacks.
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