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Novel Approach May Protect Against Heart Attack Injury
Date:7/10/2008

- Drugs Target Gene Pathways to Preserve Heart, Possibly Other Organs -

PHILADELPHIA, July 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have manipulated cell activity that occurs during the interruption of blood flow to strongly protect heart tissue in animal studies. The finding has the potential to become an emergency treatment for heart attack patients, particularly since already existing drugs might be pressed into service to produce the protective effects.

"Reduced blood flow, or ischemia, is a major problem in many organs, where it can lead to cell death and tissue damage," said study leader Peter J. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at Children's Hospital and a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "We decided to look for a global approach to protecting heart tissue by inhibiting enzymes that govern how cells respond to ischemia."

Gruber's team published their findings online July 7 in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The article will appear in the journal's October 2008 print issue.

The researchers made use of drugs called histone deactylase (HDAC) inhibitors that alter the way DNA is packaged within cells, as well as modifying the function of other proteins. Building on previous work by other researchers, who showed that HDAC inhibitors reduce ischemic injury in the brain, they used the same agents in mice with induced heart damage.

"We found significant and dramatic results in the mice," said Gruber. "The HDAC inhibitors reduced the area of tissue injury, even when delivered an hour after the ischemic event occurred." The size of the myocardial infarction--an area of dead tissue caused by obstructed blood flow, as occurs after a heart attack--was reduced by more than half.

In further investigating how the HDAC inhibitors acted, Gruber's team found they blocked gene pathways
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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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