Australian scientists have developed a drug that can save the lives of many people who have suffered a myocardial infarction. Interestingly, the drug is based on a substance contained in the venom of one of the deadliest spiders in the world — the funnel spider of Fraser Island. The results of the study are published in the journal Circulation.
After a heart attack, blood flow to the heart decreases, which leads to a lack of oxygen in the heart muscle. Lack of oxygen leads to the fact that the cellular environment becomes acidic, and at the molecular level, the body sends a signal of death to the heart cells.
Despite decades of research, no one has yet managed to develop a drug that stops this “death signal” in the heart cells. Currently, there are no drugs in clinical practice that prevent damage caused by heart attacks and heart attacks.
Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Victor Chan Institute of Cardiac Research at the University of New South Wales found that the Hi1a protein from the venom of the Fraser Island funnel spider blocks acid-sensitive ion channels in the heart, preventing the “death signal” from passing through them. As a result, cell death decreases, and the survival rate of patients who have suffered a heart attack increases.
In addition, according to the authors, the drug created on the basis of the Hi1a protein can significantly prolong the life of donor hearts. This will not only help hundreds of thousands of people who suffer a heart attack every year around the world, but also give hope to those who are waiting for a transplant.
“Usually, if the donor heart has stopped beating for more than 30 minutes before extraction, the heart cannot be used. Even if we get an extra ten minutes with the help of a new drug, it can literally save the lives of those who are on the verge of death, — the words of one of the authors of the study, Professor Peter MacDonald, a researcher at the Institute of Cardiological Research Victor Chan and a senior cardiologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney are quoted in a press release from the University of Queensland. – The survival of heart cells is vital in heart transplantation. Treating the heart with Hi1a and reducing cell death will increase the distance to which the heart can be transported and increase the likelihood of successful transplantation.”
According to the authors, the discovery was not accidental. It is based on an earlier work by Professor Glenn King from the University of Queensland, who discovered a small protein in the venom of the Fraser Island funnel spider that significantly improves brain recovery after a stroke.
“We found that this small Hi1a protein surprisingly reduces brain damage, even if it is administered eight hours after the onset of a stroke,” says Professor King. “It made sense to test Hi1a on heart cells, because, like the brain, the heart is one of the most sensitive organs in the body to loss of blood flow and lack of oxygen.”
Currently, scientists have tested the Hi1a protein on human heart cells, and in the future they plan to conduct full-fledged clinical trials. The authors hope that the drug they have created will be able to be used quickly by emergency doctors, including in remote settlements located far from hospitals, and this will save the lives of many patients with heart attacks and other acute heart diseases.