Study Suggests MS Drug Also Effective In Preventing Heart Condition

A new study suggests that a drug known to treat multiple sclerosis may also be effective in preventing one of the leading causes of heart attacks. Researchers from the University of Manchester and the University if Illinois in Chicago have discovered that the drug known as Gilenya, a drug recently approved in the US for the treatment of MS, was also effective in reversing the symptoms of ventricular hypertrophy in mice. The study is published in the leading cardiovascular journal, Circulation.

Ventricular hypertrophy is considered as a fatal heart disorder that can cause an abnormal heart rhythm as well as cardiac arrest. It is caused by continuous pressure brought to the heart due to certain stresses or diseases which include high blood pressure, heart attack or valvular heart disease. It is also considered as the leading cause of millions of sudden cardiac deaths worldwide each year.

The researchers, headed by Dr Ming Lei, Dr Xin Wang and Dr Elizabeth Cartwright in Manchester, and by Professor John Solaro and Dr Yunbo Ke in Chicago, discovered that by enhancing the activity of a certain enzyme molecule called Pak1 that occurs naturally in the body using the drug Gilenya can lead to a reversal of symptoms associated with ventricular hypertrophy.

According to Dr. Xin Wang, a Lecturer in Molecular Cardiology at the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, “Cardiac hypertrophy is the pathological state to respond to sustained stresses on the heart resulting in increases in ventricular wall thickness and muscle mass of the heart. The condition is often associated with fatal complications, such as, heart failure and rhythm disorders, such as ventricular arrhythmias, leading to millions of deaths worldwide each year.”

“Our research had previously identified the effect of Pak1 in preventing tissue damage caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, known as cardiac ischemic injury. This latest study used mice with a genetic modification of the Pak1 gene to show how the enzyme, when stimulated by Gilenya, prevented and even reversed the symptoms of ventricular hypertrophy,” Dr. Wang further added.

Dr. Lei, the co-author of the study who is part of Manchester’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences also said, “In recent years, escalating costs, risks, and uncertainty associated with drug development for treating cardiovascular diseases have posed daunting challenges to the pharmaceutical industry. Our discovery opens up fresh avenues for developing a new class of drug for treating several fatal heart conditions. The novel effect of this existing drug means that we have the potential to accelerate the availability of a new therapy for patients with these heart conditions.”

Source:  Medical News Today

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