Newly discovered molecule promises better treatments for heart attacks, heart surgery

September 11, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Scientists have discovered a compound that could lead to new treatments for heart attacks as well as methods to protect hearts during open heart surgery and other situations in which blood flow to the heart is interrupted.

In the process, the researchers uncovered cellular mechanisms that help explain how alcohol can protect against heart attack damage. In addition, they have uncovered a possible key to reducing chest pain and the heart attack damage among millions of people of East Asian descent who are genetically unable to respond to nitroglycerin and other cardiovascular treatments.

A research team of scientists at Stanford and Indiana universities schools of medicine reports in the Sept. 12 issue of the journal Science that by jump-starting a particular enzyme they were able to significantly reduce the amount of cell death caused by lack of blood flow to the heart.

The group, led by Daria Mochly-Rosen, Ph.D., professor of chemical and systems biology at Stanford, found that administering a compound called Alda-1 activated the enzyme, reducing heart muscle damage in experiments involving rats.

First, however, the researchers studied various mechanisms known to provide cardioprotection to heart muscle cells, including the use of ethanol, to better understand how those mechanisms worked. That work revealed a cellular signaling system that activated a particular enzyme called ALDH2.

"The idea was to find a small molecule that could bypass the signaling process and activate the enzyme directly," said Thomas D. Hurley, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and director of the Center for Structural Biology at the IU School of Medicine. Hurley's research has included years of study of the ALDH2 enzyme.

Although the Alda-1 molecule reduced heart tissue damage in laboratory tests, years of work will be necessary to refine the compound into a version that would be potentially effective and safe for human use, Dr. Hurley said. That benefit could extend to about 40 percent of people of East Asian descent who carry a mutated form of the ALDH2 enzyme, which puts them at increased risk of cardiovascular damage.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health and by Stanford University's SPARK program.

Indiana University

Related Blood Flow Articles from Brightsurf:

Brain regions with impaired blood flow have higher tau levels
In Alzheimer's disease, impaired blood flow to brain regions coincides with tau protein buildup.

3D ultrasound enables accurate, noninvasive measurements of blood flow
A 3D ultrasound system provides an effective, noninvasive way to estimate blood flow that retains its accuracy across different equipment, operators and facilities, according to a new study.

Blood flow recovers faster than brain in micro strokes
Work by a Rice neurobiologist shows that increased blood flow to the brain is not an accurate indicator of neuronal recovery after a microscopic stroke.

Exercise improves memory, boosts blood flow to brain
Scientists have collected plenty of evidence linking exercise to brain health, with some research suggesting fitness may even improve memory.

3D VR blood flow to improve cardiovascular care
Biomedical engineers are developing a massive fluid dynamics simulator that can model blood flow through the full human arterial system at subcellular resolution.

MRI shows blood flow differs in men and women
Healthy men and women have different blood flow characteristics in their hearts, according to a new study.

Brain blood flow sensor discovery could aid treatments for high blood pressure & dementia
A study led by researchers at UCL has discovered the mechanism that allows the brain to monitor its own blood supply, a finding in rats which may help to find new treatments for human conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and dementia.

Blood flow monitor could save lives
A tiny fibre-optic sensor has the potential to save lives in open heart surgery, and even during surgery on pre-term babies.

Changes in blood flow tell heart cells to regenerate
Altered blood flow resulting from heart injury switches on a communication cascade that reprograms heart cells and leads to heart regeneration in zebrafish.

Blood flow command center discovered in the brain
An international team of researchers has discovered a group of cells in the brain that may function as a 'master-controller' for the cardiovascular system, orchestrating the control of blood flow to different parts of the body.

Read More: Blood Flow News and Blood Flow Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to