Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School may have discovered a chemical to protect the heart of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy patients. The chemical has been named the ‘molecular band-aid’ and finds tiny cuts in the ailing heart. For the chemical to work at the best of its abilities, it needs to be injected into the bloodstream the same way one is injected incase of diabetes.
Researchers conducted a successful experiment on a canine to show an effective long-term treatment to prevent cardiac injuries and progressive heart chamber remodeling. For this experiment a dystrophic canine was attached with the molecular band-aid for two straight months. The solution blocked cardiac injury and heart disease remodeling when compared to a group of canines with the similar heart ailment but were receiving a placebo. The team consisted of Prof. Joseph Metzer, Assistant Prof. DeWayne Townsend and other colleagues.
“The advance in this study is demonstrating that molecular band-aid therapy is a safe and effective approach in preventing heart damage in severely affected large animals with muscular dystrophy,” Metzger said.
Prof. Townsend commented that “We speculate that certain types of heart damage that occur when we age or when the heart is failing may also someday benefit from molecular band-aid therapy.”
The follow on of this treatment is to check if these molecular band-aids could help children with the same problem over a short period of time. If it turns out to be successful, the treatment will be carried out over long-term basis with focus on improving the health and quality of the lives of patients with muscular dystrophy.
Muscular dystrophy causes progressive weakening of bodily muscles. Duchenne is said to be the most general and severe form of childhood muscular dystrophy. Approximately every one of 3500 boys falls prey to this disease. The signs become apparent in children aged 4-5 years, who later can move around only on a wheelchair by the age of 12 and many face death in their late teens or early 20s. These deaths are mainly met through either respiratory failure or heart failure. The ongoing treatments are restricted to the use of corticosteroids which are not that effective and also result in severe side-effects.
However the capacity of the molecular band-aid is yet to be fully understood and one may even get to use the band-aid beyond muscular dystrophy. The researchers have anticipated the use of the molecular band-aid for elders with weak heart muscles. In this scenario the band-aid may prove to be useful as a solution for many health-related issues.
These findings appear in the March 15 edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.