Breakthrough may lead to heart attack treatment
Researchers from Temple University have found a way to potentially limit the damage to heart cells during and after a heart attack. In a study using mice, they inhibited a specific heart protein, and that both reduced damage during a heart attack and protected the heart afterwards.
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, used mice in a way that mimicked a human clinical scenario with a blockage of an artery to induce a heart attack. The researchers then administered a protein inhibitor, which improved the cardiac function in the mice. They also found that the protein is elevated in patients suffering from heart failure, which can occur in the years after a heart attack. So the researchers engineered one group of mice to over-express that protein, known as TNNI3K, and created a second set of engineered mice without the protein.
When over-expressed, the protein promoted injury to the heart tissue through the stopping and starting of blood flow through the heart during and after a heart attack. In mice that didn’t have the protein, injury to the heart was limited, and there were reductions in heart dysfunction and hardening of the heart tissue.
Then, researchers teamed up with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to find compounds capable of blocking TNNI3K. The treatment of non-engineered mice with the compounds following heart attack produced similar results to those of the mice engineered without the protein.
Researchers hope they can develop a TNNI3K inhibitor that could be used in humans.