Lab+Life Scientist Apr/May 2017

Page 6

Lauren Davis

US scientists have identified a drug candidate to restore heart muscle function following a heart attack, in a breakthrough which has been described as a game changer for people living with heart disease.


hey say time heals all wounds, but

for those who have suffered a heart attack, the reality could not be more different. Even if one is lucky enough to survive such an ordeal, part of the heart muscle dies and the associated scarring interferes with the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood. No drug currently exists to restore this muscle function. While regenerative medicine has so far focused on cell-, gene- and tissue engineeringbased therapeutics, the development of small molecule regenerative medicine therapies is an emerging area. Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory sought to further explore this arena, recently undertaking a study in zebrafish to identify small molecules capable of stimulating tissue repair and regeneration processes. “Small molecules offer potential advantages over other regenerative medicine therapeutic strategies including reduced complexity and regulatory hurdles, ready reversibility of the therapy, lack of ethical concerns and likely lower treatment costs,” the researchers wrote in the journal npj Regenerative Medicine. “However, small molecule discovery and development has to date been constrained by limited understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying regenerative processes.” The zebrafish already has regenerative capabilities, with the ability to restore the form and function of almost any body part. The researchers aimed to accelerate this process, amputating the caudal fins of adult zebrafish and then giving the

How to heal a

broken heart

creatures daily intraperitoneal (IP) injections of either vehicle or candidate compounds.

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