Scientists find a new way to fight against heart failure

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In a new study from the University of Cambridge, researchers found that switching off a heart muscle protein could provide a new way for drugs to combat heart failure in people who’ve had a heart attack.

There is an unmet need to find drugs that can successfully improve the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently after it’s been damaged following a heart attack.

However, many drugs that make failing heart muscle contract more strongly have been deemed unsafe, leaving a huge gap in heart attack and heart failure treatment.

Scientists now believe that they might have identified a new drug target—a protein called MARK4.

In the study, the scientists found levels of MARK4 were elevated in mouse hearts after a heart attack.

When they compared mice with and without MARK4 in the heart, they found hearts without the protein were 57% better at pumping blood.

This protective effect was seen 24 hours after a heart attack and lasted for the entire follow-up period of four weeks.

The team identified for the first time that MARK4 fine-tunes a structural network within the heart muscle cell—called the microtubule network—that attaches to the machinery which makes heart muscle cells contract and relaxes.

When MARK4 levels were increased after a heart attack, microtubules were tightly anchored onto the contractile machinery in the heart, causing more resistance and preventing them from functioning normally.

When MARK4 levels were reduced, microtubules were loosely anchored, making it easier for the heart to contract and relax.

After a heart attack, in the heart muscle cells without MARK4, the speed of contraction increased by 42% and the speed of relaxation increased by 47%, compared to muscle cells from mice with the MARK4 protein.

They were also close to functioning at the same level as healthy heart muscle cells, showing the power of lowering levels of MARK4.

Now, the researchers suggest that drugs to switch off MARK4 could provide a promising new way to improve recovery and help the heart to pump blood more efficiently in people with failing hearts.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about this diabetes drug could help treat most people with heart failure and findings of this diet could prevent or even reverse heart failure.

For more information about heart disease prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about these common foods could make heart failure more dangerous and results showing that drinking this beverage too much may lead to heart failure.

The study is published in Nature. One author of the study is Dr. Xuan Li.

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