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Acne medicine that “prevents arteries from hardening” gives hope to patients who have had a stroke and have a heart attack

Acne medicine that “prevents arteries from hardening” gives hope to patients who have had a stroke and have a heart attack

  • Minocycline must start human trials after research by Cambridge University
  • It contains chemical that can be used to prevent the arteries from hardening
  • Antibiotics were used to treat acne, but have recently fallen due to resistance

A cure for acne can prevent thousands of deaths by stopping the hardening of arteries, British scientists hope.

Every year around 200,000 people in Britain suffer from strokes or heart attacks, often caused by inflammation and hardening of arteries when fat deposits are calcified.

But researchers at Cambridge University are about to start trials on people with a drug, minocycline, that they believe may stop the harmful process.

While millions take statins to lower cholesterol and reduce fat deposits on the vascular walls, many people do not and the drug cannot fully compensate for a poor diet and lack of exercise. Once the fat deposits are present, calcium crystals can accumulate and cause hardening.

Antibiotic minocycline will enter human trials after research by the University of Cambridge (stock)

Antibiotic minocycline will enter human trials after research by the University of Cambridge (stock)

Dr. Stroke Doctor Nick Evans, who is involved in the tests, said: “People used to think that hardening was like scale in a pipe, but we now know that it is more nuanced. It is not just an inert material structure. The area is inflamed and clots begin to form. These can then break off and cause a stroke or heart attack. “

Research by chemist Professor Melinda Duer at Cambridge, and vascular biologist Professor Catherine Shanahan at King’s College London, has uncovered the cellular process that leads to calcification. After more than ten years of work, they discovered that a molecule called poly (ADP-ribose) is crucial for this process and started looking for something to stop its formation.

Prof Duer explained: “We knew what the machines were that make this molecule, so we were looking for a molecule with a very specific shape to block it.”

They searched databases of drugs that are already in clinical use – because they are known as “safe and cheap,” said Professor Duer. Minocycline is the first they have identified, although they hope to find others. Prof Duer said: “Minocycline is an antibiotic that has been used – and is still used occasionally – to treat acne. It is not widely used now, because there is a broad resistance to it. “She added that the drug works in a different way to stop calcification, it doesn’t matter that it’s largely unnecessary as an antibiotic.

It is believed that the drug can stop the hardening process of the blood vessels - increasing the risk of stroke (supply)

It is believed that the drug can stop the hardening process of arteries - increasing the risk of stroke (inventory)

It is believed that the drug can stop the hardening process of the blood vessels – increasing the risk of stroke (supply)

Dr. Evans, who has also developed a new way to scan arteries for “unstable” calcified deposits, is planning to launch the first human trial at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge within a few months. It is about giving the medicine to 12 people who have just had a stroke, while 12 similar patients will receive standard care.

Those who have just had a stroke are much more likely to have a new one, with a fifth doing so within three months. The test will test whether minocycline reduces the chances of a repeat event. Dr. Evans said, “We hope to report our findings in 2021.” If it works, there is “no reason” not to try it in patients with a heart attack either.

The Stroke Association said: “We urgently need to find the most effective ways to control the risk of secondary stroke among stroke survivors. Every stroke is different, so the more options we have to help people reduce their risk of stroke, the better. “

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