A chemical that may, over the long term, protect the hearts of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients has been discovered by University of Minnesota Medical School scientists.
The chemical, which Medical School scientists have termed a "molecular band-aid," seeks out tiny cuts in diseased heart muscle. When injected into the bloodstream, the molecular band-aid finds these microscopic cuts and protects them from harmful substances so the heart muscle cells can survive and function normally. In order to be effective the chemical must be repeatedly injected, much in the same way a diabetic patient requires regular injections of insulin,
In the March 15 edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Joseph Metzger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, DeWayne Townsend, D.V.M., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, and colleagues showed the first ever effective long-term treatment for preventing cardiac injury and progressive heart chamber remodeling in a severely affected canine model of muscular dystrophy.
In the study, dystrophic dogs were given the molecular band-aid continuously for two months. The treatment completely blocked cardiac injury and heart disease remodeling compared to the control group of dystrophic canines receiving a placebo.
"The advance in this study is demonstrating that molecular band-aid therapy is a safe and effective approach in preventing heart damage in severely affected large animals with muscular dystrophy," Metzger said.