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Can medicine mend a broken heart?

Posted on November 18th, 2015 by in Chemistry

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I freely admit, life without chocolate is unthinkable. That my daily sugar rush may lead to diabetes or blocked arteries (among other things) is something I prefer not to think about.

As those suffering from type 1 diabetes or heart problems know, the gradual breakdown in function of the pancreas or heart is not only due to poor lifestyle choices.

So what is the best way to limit the damage caused by the degradation of these organs?

One emerging area of research is regenerative medicine for organ repair. A quick literature search in Reaxys shows that publications in this area have grown steadily: from 30 in 2001 to over 2000 in 2015.

A new review in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters focuses on recent research in the cardiovascular and metabolic area, specifically for pancreatic, cardiac and vascular health. Are there small molecules that can be introduced into the body to stimulate the growth of ╬▓-cells, thus providing the body with a better insulin supply? What research is there to prove that this will not lead to an overproduction of ╬▓-cells or serious side effects?

Some regenerative medicine for cardiovascular disease is undergoing clinical trials but with mixed results. A medicine to stimulate creation of new heart cells still seems a long way off but this is an exciting research area.

When Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant in December 1967, the resulting publicity turned him into a celebrity. In contrast, medicating to repair the heart without the need for surgery,  is unlikely to result in overnight fame, but could be a simpler alternative.

 

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The growth in literature on regenerative medicine since 2001

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

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