August 6, 2012
Angina medicine could protect from carbon monoxide
Scientists funded by us have found that a commonly-used
drug for treating angina could help protect the heart from damage
caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas
that is difficult for people to detect – it can be produced by
faulty gas appliances such as heaters. Poisoning from the gas
causes 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year –
it causes many people to develop heart
rhythm problems called arrhythmias which, if left untreated,
can be fatal.
The team, made up of scientists from around the
world but led by the University of Leeds, looked
at how carbon monoxide triggers these arrhythmias.
The researchers have improved our
understanding of the damage that occurs in the heart’s
cells after breathing in carbon monoxide. This is vital if we are
to develop effective treatments.
Old drugs, new tricks
Thanks to their findings, the group tested a drug
in rats they knew neutralised the effect they saw in heart cells
exposed to carbon monoxide. This drug, ranolazine, is a treatment
approved for use against angina in the
US – it markedly reduced the chance of an
arrhythmia developing in rats.
Our Research Advisor, Dr Hélène Wilson,
This study has uncovered the ability of an old drug to perform a new trick
study is a good example of research being used to better understand
the underlying causes
of an abnormal heart rhythm
and in this case it has uncovered the ability of an old drug to
perform a new trick. Carbon monoxide poisoning is tragically common
but hopefully these promising results
replicated in people so that it saves lives in the future."
Learn more about how our scientists are
helping beat heart disease.
The research was published in the scientific journal
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care