HEART DISEASE: Anti-Tumor Drug May Prevent Heart Attacks
The same drugs that kill cancer tumors by starving them of their blood supply may prevent heart disease by limiting blood flow to artery-clogging plaque deposits, according to a study published in today's Circulation (Haney, AP/Detroit Free Press, 4/6). Dr. Karen Moulton, a researcher in the lab of renowned cancer scientist Judah Folkman, tested the effects of the angiogenesis drugs endostatin and TNP-470 in mice genetically predisposed to heart disease that were fed a high cholesterol diet (Saltus, Boston Globe, 4/6). She found that plaque growth in mice treated with endostatin was 85% lower than for mice in a control group, and 70% lower for mice treated with TNP-470 (Winslow, Wall Street Journal, 4/6).
Feeding, Not Starving
Paradoxically, angiogenesis drugs have also been used to treat heart disease by Dr. Jeffrey Isner of Tufts Medical School by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels around clogged and damaged arteries (Talan, Newsday, 4/6). "While we want to make new vessels in the muscle of the heart, we have to be cautious that we aren't making new plaques that occlude the coronary arteries," said Dr. Valentin Fuster, president of the American Heart Association (Wall Street Journal, 4/6). Moulton said the opposite approaches could be used at different points during the course of heart disease, by cutting off blood supply to plaque deposits while they are growing and stimulating blood vessels growth after arteries are already clogged (Wade, New York Times, 4/6).