Leeches Provide Clues Regarding The Prevention Of Heart Disease

by Medindia Content Team on  October 25, 2005 at 1:00 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Leeches Provide Clues Regarding The Prevention Of Heart Disease
Cardiovascular diseases have now become common place owing to the wide scale industrialization and subsequent change in life style. Time and over again, scientists have been working on ways to prevent or treat heart ailments without surgical intervention. The results of a recent research have recently confirmed that leeches could be used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

The leeches have added to the biomedical interest by showing that it contains an extensive list of new potential molecules that may become useful tools. There has been an increasing tendency to turn towards blood-feeding invertebrates as a source for drugs and lead compounds to treat cardiovascular disease because these animals have evolved highly efficient mechanisms to feed on their hosts by blocking blood coagulation.

Most heart attacks and strokes are associated with a blocked artery and in a majority of the cases; blood clots may cause the blockage of blood vessels supplying the heart, leading to heart disease. Furthermore, people with cardiovascular disease typically have an increased tendency to form blood clots, and a decreased ability to dissolve clots before they can do any damage. Therefore, compounds interrupting the blood coagulation cascade may inhibit thrombus development as well.

The researchers have identified and analyzed peptides and small proteins in the saliva of the medical leech Hirudo medicinalis for their ability to bind to molecules called serine proteases. These molecules have the ability to prevent coagulation or clotting of blood.

Of the nearly 2,000 molecules the researches screened, more than 75 of them interacted specifically with the fixed target and 16 of these binding molecules were isolated and subsequently characterized as new inhibitors that had potential to be used as drugs in treating cardiovascular disease.

Although these newly discovered molecules are a long way from being used to treat cardiovascular disease, they do represent several important leads in the search for more effective anticoagulant and fibrinolytic drugs. The research tem has also expressed interest towards screening of different types of leeches and other blood sucking animals for their anti-coagulant potential.

Medindia on chest pain:

Some causes of chest pain require prompt medical attention, such as angina, heart attack, or tearing of the aorta. Other causes of chest pain can be evaluated electively, such as spasm of the esophagus, gallbladder attack, or inflammation of the chest wall.

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