New class of drug targets heart disease

September 17, 2013, University of Alberta
Gavin Oudit is an associate professor and cardiologist at the University of Alberta. Credit: University of Alberta

(Edmonton) Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a synthetic peptide that could be the first in a new class of drugs to treat heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Researchers at the U of A found that a deficiency in the peptide apelin is associated with , and diabetes. They also developed a that targets pathways in the heart and promotes .

Lead author Gavin Oudit, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, said the synthetic form of apelin is far more stable and potent than the naturally occurring peptide, making drug therapies possible.

"It's a new group of drugs that we hope can be used for a wide variety of disorders, all of which have a huge economic burden on the health-care system," said Oudit, a cardiologist and clinician-scientist at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.

Oudit's research group studied apelin deficiency in the hearts of mice and humans through the Human Explanted Heart Program, or HELP. The HELP program allows for the study of specimens obtained from patients undergoing a heart transplant.

The research team found that hearts from patients who suffered heart attacks were deficient in apelin, which is needed for angiogenesis—the formation of new blood vessels that helps the body adapt after tissue damage from heart attacks.

Oudit's team has filed a provisional patent on the synthetic apelin and will continue work developing the drug to be more potent and clinically applicable. Once the drug is perfected, they'll move into the first phase of clinical trials in two to three years.

Oudit said the breakthrough could not have happened without the contributions of U of A colleagues, including John Vederas, a medicinal chemist and professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Allan Murray, a clinician-scientist and nephrologist in the Department of Medicine. Wang Wang and Shaun McKinnie, both PhD students in Oudit's and Vederas's laboratories, also played a key role in this discovery.

"Having this kind of environment that's multidisciplinary and collaborative is absolutely critical to take a discovery to the next level," Oudit said. "We showed this kind of translational work can be done here, in Edmonton, at the University of Alberta."

The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Explore further: Protective molecule, ACE2, also proving its worth in diabetic patients

Related Stories

Protective molecule, ACE2, also proving its worth in diabetic patients

May 16, 2012
ACE2, a molecule that has been shown to prevent damage in the heart, is now proving to be protective of the major organs that are often damaged in diabetic patients.

Disruption of cellular signaling identified in pulmonary arterial hypertension

December 27, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Impairment of a key signaling cascade in the pulmonary blood vessels plays an important role in pulmonary arterial hypertension, a Yale study has found. The study appears in the advance online publication ...

Discovery of new heart failure trigger could change the way cardiovascular drugs are made

July 18, 2012
In their quest to treat cardiovascular disease, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have long been interested in developing new medicines that activate a heart protein called APJ. But researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical ...

Researchers find promising new angle for drugs to prevent stroke and heart attack

August 30, 2013
Platelets, which allow blood to clot, are at the heart of numerous cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and stroke. New research has uncovered a key platelet protein that could offer a new angle for developing ...

Heart fat predicts risk of death in kidney disease patients

September 17, 2013
International cardiac research led by a University of Alberta medical scientist shows fat deposits around the heart—which can be spotted through simple CT scans—can help predict the risk of death in patients with chronic ...

Recommended for you

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.