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Researchers at U of G Discover Potential Drug to Treat Heart Attacks

Pulse trace heart monitor in blue shades stock photo (Illustration credit: IStock: mkurtbas)A potential drug to treat heart attacks and to prevent heart failure – for which no cure currently exists — may result from pioneering research by a University of Guelph professor.

Prof. Tami Martino, in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, and PhD student Cristine Reitz, have discovered what they believe is a novel drug target controlling the body’s repair responses after a heart attack.

A leading cause of death worldwide, heart attacks trigger inflammatory responses that cause a scar to form in the heart. Over time, that damage eventually leads to incurable heart failure.

Administered within hours of an attack, the potential drug would prevent scarring. It would also eliminate the need for patients to take possibly debilitating heart medication for the rest of their lives.

“This research is really exciting because it opens the door to use circadian medicine therapies to heal heart attacks after they occur and to prevent the subsequent development of heart failure,” said Martino, a pioneer in circadian medicine.

Prof. Tami Martino, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphThe circadian “clock” is found in virtually all cells of the body. It consists of genes and proteins that interact during 24-hour day and night cycles to regulate key functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.

In the heart, that clock mechanism controls healthy cardiovascular physiology as well as how the heart responds to damage and undergoes repair.

The researchers’ new paper was published in Nature Communications Biology. 

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, this study is part of her lab’s pioneering work on circadian medicine. By studying how disruptions to body clock rhythms drive heart diseases, Martino, who is a mid-career investigator of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, aims to manipulate circadian biology with genetic, environmental or pharmacological therapies.

Read the entire news article on the University of Guelph website

(Photo: Prof. Tami Martino, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph)

(Illustration credit: IStock: wildpixel)