Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Drugs currently in Phase III clinical trials could be repurposed to help people with diabetes recover after a heart attack

Drugs currently undergoing development to treat anaemia could be repurposed to help prevent people with type 2 diabetes from developing heart failure, according to new research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Diabetes UK.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that, after a heart attack, a protein called HIF acts to help heart cells survive.

In people with diabetes, fats accumulate within the heart muscle and stop the HIF protein from becoming active. This means that a person is more likely to suffer lasting heart muscle damage, and develop heart failure after a heart attack.

Researchers in DPAG treated diabetic rats with a drug known to activate the HIF protein, and were able to encourage the heart to recover after a heart attack. Further work is needed to see whether the same process can be replicated in people.

However, these initial results suggest that several drugs known to activate HIF - and currently undergoing phase III clinical trials to treat people with anaemia - could also be given to people with diabetes immediately after a heart attack.

Nearly 3.7 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that puts people at much higher risk of developing heart and circulator disease. In the UK there are nearly 200,000 hospital visits each year due to heart attacks. It is estimated that nearly a fifth (18.6%) of people who have a heart attack in the UK, also suffer from diabetes (1).

Associate Professor Lisa Heather, a BHF research fellow here at DPAG, who led the research, said: “After a heart attack, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop heart failure more quickly, but we have not fully understood the reasons why that is the case.

“What we have shown with this research is that diabetics’ metabolism means they have higher levels of fatty acids in the heart. This prevents signals going to the heart protective protein telling it to ‘kick-in’ after a heart attack.

“But what is perhaps most exciting, is that existing drugs - currently being trialled for people with blood disorders - can reverse that effect and allow the protein to be activated after a heart attack.    

“This opens the possibility that, in the near future, we could also use these drugs to help treat diabetic heart attack patients.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: “This research in rats has not only identified the mechanism that could explain why people with type 2 diabetes to have poorer outcomes after a heart attack, but also a practical way this might be prevented.

“Further studies will be needed to confirm if we see the same benefits in humans. But if we can reactivate the body’s own defence system we may be able to reduce the damage caused by a heart attack and improve people’s quality of life.”

IMG_6743.jpg

The team behind the research

The article has also been covered in the Guardian and the Express.

Similar stories

REF 2021 results

DPAG researchers showcased at premier European Society of Cardiology meeting

DPAG scientists across four research groups were highlighted at the major annual European Society of Cardiology basic science conference (FCVB 2022). Congratulations are in order for Dr KC Park on receiving the Young Investigator Award and to Dr Elisabetta Gamen on winning the Moderated Poster Prize.

Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre awarded £3.8 million to reveal the role of calcium in Parkinson’s

A collaborative research team led by the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) has been awarded a £3.8 million Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award to study the function of calcium in dopamine neurons, and how this is plays a role in Parkinson’s. Their research will help explain how and why dopamine neurons are vulnerable in the disease and look at how they may be preserved.

The effect of nuclear pH on cardiac gene expression

Research led by Dr Alzbeta Hulikova and Professor Pawel Swietach has, for the first time, described the potential regulation of nuclear acid-base chemistry in neonatal and adult cardiomyocytes, and explained its relevance in the context of heart physiology and pathology.

A role of sleep in tinnitus identified for the first time

Phantom percepts, such as subjective tinnitus, are driven by fundamental changes in spontaneous brain activity. Sleep is a natural example of major shifts in spontaneous brain activity and perceptual state, suggesting an interaction between sleep and tinnitus that has so far been little considered. In a new collaborative review article from DPAG’s auditory and sleep neuroscientists, tinnitus and sleep research is brought together for the first time, and, in conclusion, they propose a fundamental relationship between natural brain dynamics and the expression and pathogenesis of tinnitus.