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Drug Could Help Hearts Recover After Heart Attack

Drug Could Help Hearts Recover After Heart Attack | Pharmtech Focus

A drug used to treat certain cancers could improve recovery after a heart attack by helping the heart to heal and reducing the risk of further complications, according to research British Heart Foundation fund published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Dr Xian Yu MD and Dr Stephen Newland from the University of Cambridge found that a low dose of the drug, known as aldesleukin, injected under the skin of patients who had an acute heart attack, increased the activation of immune cells shown to protect the heart.

Specifically, the drug was shown to activate a rare white blood cell called innate type 2 lymphocyte (ILC2). ILC2 has previously been shown to decrease the harmful inflammation that promotes the build-up of fatty deposits in arteries.

Reducing heart scarring

The researchers looked at mice unable to produce ILC2 and found that their hearts were less able to recover after a heart attack. Mice that could produce ILC2 had reduced heart scarring and better heart function after a heart attack.

By targeting the inflammation caused by the body’s immune response to a heart attack the researchers also hope to prevent the dangerous feedback loop that can increase a person’s chances of having a second heart attack.

The Cambridge team are now following patients who have been given aldesleukin after a heart attack in a Phase 2 clinical trial. They hope that further positive results from this trial will lead to larger trials and, eventually, a new treatment for heart attacks.

A new way to treat heart attacks

Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Every five minutes someone is admitted to a UK hospital due to a heart attack. Thanks to research, heart attacks are now treatable, and seven out of ten people will survive. However, many heart attack survivors will still be left with damaged hearts.

“This research reveals a new approach that has the potential to both help heal hearts damaged by a heart attack and reduce the risk of a further heart attack.

“If clinical trials results confirm these early research findings, drugs that activate ILC2 could revolutionise heart attack treatment.”


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