A drug developed originally to treat breast cancer and diabetes has been found to offer an unexpected and beneficial side effect. Scientists have discovered a single dose of Trodusquemine can completely reverse the effects of atherosclerosis, a disease defined by fatty deposits inside the arteries, raising the prospect of new preventative medicines for heart attacks and strokes.
Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of cholesterol plaque on the artery walls, fatty deposits that harden over time and narrow the arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood through the body and can lead to very serious health problems.
Lifestyle change remains the main treatment for atherosclerosis, but scientists have looked to a number of experimental technologies as a way of treating the inflammation associated with the condition over a shorter time frame. These include avocado compounds and biodegradable nano "drones" that deliver anti-inflammatory drugs and dissolve in the body.
The drug Trodusquemine, which is currently being trialed as a treatment for breast cancer and diabetes, was somewhere they hadn't looked. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen tested the drug on mice with set-in atherosclerosis to simulate the condition in humans, and found that not only did it reduce fatty plaques inside the arteries, a one-off dose seemed to have the same effect as regular doses administered over time.
According to the researchers, the drug works by blocking an enzyme called PTP1B, which is increased in people with obesity, diabetes and conditions that involve prolonged inflammation. Meanwhile, they found that the drug stimulates another protein called AMPK which mimics exercise and actively reduces chronic inflammation.
"Trodusquemine has already been trialed for treatment of diabetes and breast cancer but this is the first time it has been used in models of atherosclerosis," said lead researcher Professor Mirela Delibegovic. "These have only been tested at pre-clinical level, in mice, so far but the results were quite impressive and showed that just a single dose of this drug seemed to completely reverse the effects of artherosclerosis. The next step is to test the ability of this drug to improve outcomes in human patients with developed atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease."
The research was published in the journal Clinical Science.
Source: University of Aberdeen