A serendipitous discovery might end up not only fighting cancer but protecting the heart as well, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lawrence Lum, a scientist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was working on a trial cancer drug intended to eliminate certain molecules that can exacerbate cancer when he realized that the medication can also regenerate damaged heart muscle and thus help prevent congestive heart failure.
The study determined that treating cardiac-challenged lab mice with a “porcupine inhibitor” caused the subjects to exhibit significant resurgence in the number of healthy heart muscle cells — plus, less scarring (fibrosis), a critical factor affecting the chances of recurrent cardiac events.
“We saw many predictable adverse effects — in bone and hair, for example — but one surprise was that the number of dividing (heart muscle cells) was slightly increased,” Lum said.
Lum said testing the inhibitor in humans could take place within a year’s time, and that the treatment would probably not be lengthy, which might lessen the likelihood of side effects.
Cancer drug might benefit heart as well
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