Research highlight

Heart disease: A small molecule may make a big difference

Nature Communications

December 10, 2014

A small molecule called BGP-15 improves cardiac function in two mouse models of heart failure, a Nature Communications study reveals. It is hoped that the discovery will lead to the development of new treatments for human heart conditions.

Atrial fibrillation, which is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, and heart failure are increasing in incidence, but current drugs show limited efficacy. Julie McMullen and colleagues show that treatment with BGP-15 can prevent or reduce episodes of irregular heartbeats and significantly improve heart function in mouse models of heart failure and atrial fibrillation. BGP-15 has already been tested for human use as a treatment for other disorders and is known to be well-tolerated with a good safety profile.

The authors also show that the drug works via an unexpected molecular pathway by increasing activation of a receptor, called the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. A shortage of this receptor has previously been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Understanding the mechanisms through which BGP-15 exerts its effects may further aid the development of new therapies for heart disease.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms6705

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