Scientists find new way to predict heart drug side effects

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Researchers at the University Medical Center and the University of Göttingen have introduced an innovative method for predicting the side effects of new drugs and therapies on the heart more efficiently.

This approach can detect potential heart-related side effects in the early testing phase, even before preclinical screening in living organisms.

Their findings have been published in Cardiovascular Research.

New drugs and therapies often have unintended side effects on the heart, necessitating comprehensive preclinical testing before clinical trials and applications.

The current testing procedures only cover a portion of potential heart-related side effects. Therefore, improving these methods is crucial for accurately predicting the risk of adverse side effects with high specificity and sensitivity.

The research, led by Prof. Dr. Tobias Brügmann, a research group leader at the Institute of Cardiovascular Physiology at the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG), in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Tim Salditt, Director of the Institute of X-ray Physics at the University of Göttingen, introduces a novel approach to maintain fresh slices of intact heart tissue in culture for several days while preserving their vitality and functionality.

This breakthrough allows for more efficient screening and assessment of how new drugs affect heart muscle cells’ electrical and contractile properties and overall tissue architecture.

All of this can be accomplished before conducting analyses in living organisms.

The method involves preparing thin (300 µm) tissue slices from pig hearts, similar to human hearts. Due to the newly developed cultivation approach, these slices of intact heart muscle tissue can now be kept in an incubator for up to two weeks.

Throughout this period, heart muscle cells’ typical shape, vitality, and functionality remain intact. This preservation is essential for a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of various substances, including potential new drugs or therapeutic approaches.

The test procedure was initially validated with drugs known to have well-described effects on the heart. Subsequently, the researchers successfully identified substances with heart-related side effects among several candidates.

Prof. Dr. Brügmann emphasizes the importance of early and efficient detection of heart-related side effects, as it reduces health risks for patients in later clinical trials and helps lower drug development costs.

This method allows for a more thorough assessment of potential drugs and therapies concerning their suitability for future clinical trials.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that vitamin K helps cut heart disease risk by a third, and a year of exercise reversed worrisome heart failure.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease, and stroke, and results showing this food ingredient may strongly increase heart disease death risk.

The research findings can be found in Cardiovascular Research.

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