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New beta-blocker to offer hope to heart and lung sufferers
Date:8/28/2008

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have been awarded 2.8 million by the Wellcome Trust to develop a new drug that could ease the suffering of hundreds of thousands of heart disease patients who are unable to take beta-blockers.

In the UK, 2.6 million people suffer from heart disease and most are able to have their symptoms effectively managed with the prescription of beta-blocker drugs which stop adrenaline from making the heart work too hard.

However, a major side effect of beta-blockers is that they make the symptoms of asthma and other breathing problems worse, so that around 300,000 patients in the UK who also suffer from respiratory conditions are prevented from taking them.

Now, a team of scientists from the University's Schools of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy will use the Wellcome Trust's funding, made under the Seeding Drug Discovery initiative, to conduct a three-year study to develop a modified type of beta-blocker that will treat heart disease and angina without exacerbating any underlying respiratory problems..

If successful, the new drug could become the general medicine of choice for all heart patients because its targeted action will lead to a significant reduction in overall side effects.

Even the best currently available beta-blockers are poor at discriminating between the heart and lungs, causing the muscles in the lungs to tighten and making breathing more difficult in some patients who have a pre-existing lung complaint.

In patients suffering from asthma, in which environmental factors cause muscle contractions leading to a narrowing of the airway, taking these medicines can trigger an attack or, even if tolerated enough to be taken regularly, can stop other asthma drugs from working.

Doctors are also extremely wary in prescribing beta-blockers for patients suffering from heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive condition which c
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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
01-159-515-793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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