New drugs to improve blood supply to the heart in patients suffering a heart attack
Translational Research Project Grant – Prof Paolo Madeddu, University of Bristol
Summary: A heart attack is caused by a blockage of one of the coronary arteries of the heart. A potential new treatment is with drugs that encourage the body to grow new blood vessels. This project will investigate whether ‘BACH1 inhibitors’ may be used as drugs to encourage new blood vessel growth and restore blood flow to the heart.
A heart attack is caused by a blockage of one or more coronary arteries of the heart. This prevents blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscle resulting in damage to the heart tissue. Treatment for heart attack includes reopening the blocked coronary artery with stents or through bypass surgery. However, there are limitations with these treatments. Reopening coronary arteries is often insufficient to achieve a complete salvage of the heart. More damage can occur in the following days, in some cases leading to the loss of heart function, called heart failure, which is associated with poor quality of life and a high risk of death. A potential new treatment is to increase the blood flow to damaged heart tissue by using drugs that encourage the body to grow new blood vessels.
Professor Madeddu and his team have discovered that the protein BACH1 is involved in controlling blood vessel growth. Too much BACH1 appears to prevent blood vessel formation. The team has gathered some exciting data showing that by blocking BACH1 it is possible to encourage blood vessel cells to make new blood vessels in a test tube. In a step toward treating patients with a heart attack, they propose using clinically available BACH1 inhibitors to encourage new blood vessel growth in the heart.
If they show that BACH1 inhibitors stimulate new blood vessel growth in the lab, this would be the first step in developing them into drug treatments for heart disease. This means that patients suffering a heart attack could be treated with a BACH1 inhibitor to accelerate the healing of the heart tissue initially salvaged by reopening the blocked coronary artery. This would result in improved quality of life and reduced risk of developing heart failure. Also, this treatment may benefit people suffering from other diseases where new vessel growth is needed, such as poor blood circulation in the legs, or damage to other organs, such as the kidney, brain and eyes.