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Drug Can Reverse Overgrown Hearts To Help Prevent Heart Failure

Posted Jun 02 2011 5:48pm

A promising cancer treatment drug can restore function of a heart en route to failure from high blood pressure, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The drug, a type of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor being evaluated in numerous ongoing clinical trials, has been shown to reverse the harmful effects of autophagy in heart muscle cells of mice. Autophagy is a natural process by which cells eat their own proteins to provide needed resources in times of stress. The new study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This opens the way for a new therapeutic strategy in hypertensive heart disease, one we can test for potential to promote regression of heart disease,” said Dr. Joseph Hill, chief of cardiology and director of the Harry S. Moss Heart Center at UT Southwestern.

Dr. Hill, senior author of the study, and other researchers have shown previously that all forms of heart disease involve either too much or too little autophagy, normally an adaptive process. For example, in the presence of high blood pressure, the heart enlarges, or hypertrophies, and autophagy is turned on. Ultimately, the hypertension-stressed heart can go into failure.

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