Compound leaves nearby heart muscle cells intact soon after heart attack

During a heart attack, dying heart muscle cells can send signals to neighboring cells. This process is known as hypoxic ischemic injury, which adds insult to injury.

But, researchers have discovered a compound, called alphaCT1, that can keep the injury localized to the dying cells, allowing the nearby heart muscle cells to remain intact and injury free.

AlphaCT1 targets the activity of channels in cell membranes that control how the dying cell relays signals to the healthy heart cells. And researchers found that it’s chemical variant, called alphaCT11, was more potent than alphaCT1 in providing protection after ischemic injury.

To test the variants’ injury-reducing effect, researchers used mouse hearts to keep blood passing through the blood vessels and the heart for hours. AlphaCT11 provided heart-protective effects, even when administered 20 minutes after the loss of blood flow from ischemic injury.

Researchers are now developing new methods for delivering alphaCT11. If successful, the drug compound will put researchers closer toward clinical trials in patients who recently suffered from a heart attack. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was funded by NHLBI.