Scientists find new drug to treat deadly cardiac arrhythmias

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Scientists at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and elsewhere have discovered a drug that could save lives when treating heart disease that leads to sudden cardiac death.

What are J Wave Syndromes (JWS)?

The drug, dubbed AR-787, could be effective in treating J-wave syndromes (JWS) such as Brugada syndrome and early repolarization syndromes.

JWS affects about 1 in 2,000 people and can cause dangerous abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac death. Hypothermia can also trigger cardiac arrhythmia in some patients.

What is the current treatment?

The current treatment for high-risk patients is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). However, this can be problematic for young patients and those who frequently receive shocks from the device.

What is AR-787?

AR-787 was designed to interact directly with a protein in the heart called the cardiac sodium channel. The sodium channel is important for the electrical impulse that causes the heart muscle to contract.

How was AR-787 discovered?

AR-787 was originally discovered and designed by former SFU graduate student. Student Mena Abdelsayed as a pharmacological solution for cardiac arrhythmias.

Abdelsayed used computer modeling programs to design various drug structures until he achieved the desired results.

Testing AR-787

Abdelsayed and his research team demonstrated the drug’s effectiveness in altering the current properties of the sodium channel by testing sodium channel genes introduced into human embryonic kidney cells.

However, they have yet to verify the drug’s effectiveness in the muscle cells of a real heart.

AR-787 trials

To test the effectiveness of AR-787 on real heart muscle cells, Abdelsayed’s team turned to Dr. Charles Antzelevitch, a distinguished professor emeritus and executive director of cardiovascular research at the LIMR.

The team of dr. Antzelevitch supported the research by conducting AR-787 trials on mammalian hearts at the LIMR laboratory.

Results of AR-787 trials

The team of dr. Antzelevitch tested the drug’s effect on the sodium channel current and additional ion channels in the heart.

They found that AR-787 not only increased sodium channel activity, but also potently inhibited a specific cardiac potassium channel that is a major contributor to the development of life-threatening arrhythmias in experimental models of Brugada and early repolarization syndromes.

what says dr Antzelevitch on AR-787?

dr Antzelevitch, who has researched J-wave syndromes for 35 years, says that blocking the transient outward flow of potassium can prevent the development of fatal arrhythmias associated with JWS, regardless of the syndromes’ genetic cause.

He reported that a drug called quinidine blocks this channel and is effective in suppressing the development of JWS-related cardiac arrhythmias.

Since then, quinidine has been used worldwide to treat JWS. dr Antzelevitch also reported that a natural product from the safflower plant called acacetin blocks the transient outward flow of potassium.

dr Antzelevitch believes AR-787 could be the drug they were looking for as it dissolves better in the blood than acacetin and is free from the side effects of quinidine.

AR-787 patented

The team has patented the drug and hopes to inspire the pharmaceutical industry to take AR-787 to the next step, testing its long-term safety and effectiveness and conducting clinical trials.

If heart health is important to you, please read the related studies Yogurt may help reduce the risk of death from heart diseaseAnd Coconut sugar might help reduce arterial stiffness.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about it How eating eggs can help reduce the risk of heart diseaseAnd Vitamin K2 could help reduce the risk of heart disease.

The study was published in PLUS ONE.

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