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Giving The Heart A Second Chance? Anti-Cancer Drug Found To Help Regenerate Heart Tissues

Update Date: Feb 06, 2017 06:44 PM EST

Unlike other parts of the body, the heart has the inability to repair itself. As such, when an individual suffers from a heart attack, it causes irreparable damage and permanent scarring on the heart tissue leading frequently resulting in the serious weakening of the muscle or heart failure.

Fortunately, while researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center were developing an anti-cancer drug, they unexpectedly discovered that the drug could help regenerate heart tissues thus giving the heart a second chance.

The Wnt acyltransferase Porcupine (Porcn) is a type of protein secreted in the body that has a significant role in tissue regeneration but also causes cancer. By targeting the Wnt signaling, researchers are developing drugs that can stop the development of cancer when they unexpectedly discovered the regenerative potential of the Wnt inhibitor for proregenerative responses in different types of tissues in particular heart tissues. The drug not only works as an anti-cancer agent but has also been found useful in regenerative medicine.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, induced heart attacks in mice and were treated using the Porcn inhibitor. The researchers found twice as much improvement in heart functions after the heart attack in treated mice compared to untreated mice. In addition, fibrosis brought upon by heart attacks are found to have been reduced in treated mice.

This means that by inhibiting Wnt signaling right after a heart attack, there would be minimal damage in the heart particular its tissues and enables a faster and speedy healing of the heart. However, the researchers note that the Porcn inhibitor can only be used within the short period of time right after the individual has a heart attack so to avoid side-effects brought upon by the anti-cancer drug.

Within the next year, the researchers are planning on developing further the Wnt signaling inhibitor as a regenerative drug for the heart and see a future where the drug can help prevent congestive heart failure.

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