Posts Tagged ‘Heart Disease’

NEW ADVANCE ANNOUNCED IN REDUCING ‘BAD’ CHOLESTEROL

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Leicester, UK

Researchers identify enzyme that could be targeted to help body tackle LDL’s

Scientists from the University of Leicester and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have announced a major advance towards developing drugs to tackle dangerous, or ‘bad’, cholesterol in the body.

Prof. John Schwabe
Prof. John Schwabe
University of Leicester
Prof. of Structural Biology
Photo:le.ac.uk

They have filed two patents for developing targeted drugs that would act as a catalyst for lowering levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Two research papers published by the academics enhance the understanding of the regulation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.

LDL, the so called ‘bad’ cholesterol, is often linked to medical problems like heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries.

In the body, cells in the liver produce an LDL receptor that binds LDL and removes it from the blood, thereby lowering cholesterol levels.

The scientists have characterised an enzyme called IDOL that plays a key role in regulating the amount of LDL receptor available to bind with ‘bad’ cholesterol. Therefore targeting the enzyme with drugs could increase the levels of LDL receptors present, thus lowering circulating cholesterol in humans.

Professor John Schwabe, Head of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, said: “Development of a drug that interferes with IDOL’s activity could help lower levels of LDL. Our research has greatly enhanced our understanding of this important process.”

Prof John Schwabe, Dr Ben Goult and Dr Louise Fairall at the University of Leicester in collaboration with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) published their research in the top research journals: Genes & Development and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The research was funded by The Wellcome Trust, the NIH and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The study published in Genes & Development announced the first atomic structural information on IDOL and identified the E2 ligase, UBE2D that works with IDOL to degrade the LDL receptor.

In the second research article published in PNAS, the team elucidated the molecular basis for the stringent specificity of IDOL for the LDL receptor.

Professor Schwabe added: “Remarkably, IDOL only targets three proteins for degradation (all lipoprotein receptors) and this research paper greatly enhances our understanding of this specificity and identifies key residues involved in mediating this interaction.”

“A potential future drug that targets IDOL could be prescribed in conjunction with statin drugs, which also cut cholesterol levels by increasing production of the LDL receptor and these two studies make considerable headway towards this.”

>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

MECHANISM DISCOVERED FOR HEALTH BENEFIT OF GREEN TEA

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

One of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease, according to new research in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. This may be one of the underlying mechanisms for the health benefits of green tea, which has attracted wide interest for its ability to help control inflammation, improve immune function and prevent cancer.

Emily Ho
Emily Ho
Associate Professor
Principal Investigator
Linus Pauling Institute
Photo: oregonstate.edu

Pharmaceutical drugs are available that perform similar roles and have been the subject of much research, scientists say, but they have problems with toxicity. A natural food product might provide a long term, sustainable way to accomplish this same goal without toxicity, researchers said.

“This appears to be a natural, plant-derived compound that can affect the number of regulatory T cells, and in the process improve immune function,” said Emily Ho, an LPI principal investigator and associate professor in the OSU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

“When fully understood, this could provide an easy and safe way to help control autoimmune problems and address various diseases,” Ho said.

The findings have been published in Immunology Letters, a professional journal.

There are many types of cells that have different roles in the immune system, which is a delicate balancing act of attacking unwanted invaders without damaging normal cells. In autoimmune diseases, which can range from simple allergies to juvenile diabetes or even terminal conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, this process goes awry and the body mistakenly attacks itself.

Some cells exist primarily to help control that problem and dampen or “turn off” the immune system, including regulatory T cells. The number and proper function of those regulatory T cells, in turn, is regulated by other biological processes such as transcription factors and DNA methylation.

In this study, OSU scientists did experiments with a compound in green tea, a polyphenol called EGCG, which is believed to be responsible for much of its health benefits and has both anti-inflammatory and anticancer characteristics. They found it could cause a higher production of regulatory T cells. Its effects were not as potent as some of those produced by prescription drugs, but it also had few concerns about long-term use or toxicity.

“EGCG may have health benefits through an epigenetic mechanism, meaning we aren’t changing the underlying DNA codes, but just influencing what gets expressed, what cells get turned on,” Ho said. “And we may be able to do this with a simple, whole-food approach.”

Laboratory studies done with mice, Ho said, showed that treatment with EGCG significantly increased the numbers and frequencies of regulatory T cells found in spleen and lymph notes, and in the process helped to control the immune response.

“Epigenetic regulation can be potentially exploited in generating suppressive regulatory T cells for therapeutic purposes, and is of significant clinical importance for the suppression of autoimmune diseases,” the researchers said in their study.

The research was done by scientists from OSU, the University of Connecticut, and Changwon National University in South Korea. The work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.

>>>>>Read more in our HeartVigor.com Green Tea Page.

CHOLESTEROL’S LINK TO HEART DISEASE GETS CLEARER

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Cholesterol’s link to heart disease gets clearer - and more complicated
By considering molecular level events on a broader scale, researchers now have a clearer, if more complicated, picture of how one class of immune cells goes wrong when loaded with cholesterol. The findings reported in the February 3rd issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, show that, when it comes to the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease, it’s not about any one bad actor - it’s about a network gone awry.

The new findings also highlight a pretty remarkable thing, Heinecke says: “Despite 30 years of study, we still don’t know how cholesterol causes heart disease.” But, with the new findings, scientists are getting closer.

Earlier studies had shown that heart disease is about more than just high LDL (”bad”) cholesterol. Cells known as macrophages also play a critical role. Macrophages are part of the innate immune system that typically gobble up pathogens and clear away dead cells. But they also take up and degrade cholesterol derivatives. When they get overloaded with those lipoproteins, they take on a foamy appearance under the microscope to become what scientists aptly refer to as foam cells. Those foam cells are the ones that seem to have critical importance in the development of atherosclerosis.

People had typically thought about this problem in terms of linear pathways, Heinecke explained. In essence, macrophages end up with too much cholesterol going in and not enough coming out. The macrophages get overwhelmed and trapped in the artery wall, and somehow plaques form as a result.

But the new results show that it isn’t really about simple paths in and out; rather, there is an integrated network of macrophage proteins involved. When that network gets disrupted, as it does when too much cholesterol comes in, atherosclerosis forms. “It’s definitely a different way to think about what is going on,” Heinecke says.

Heinecke’s group applied sophisticated technologies and statistical tools to get a global view of what happens to macrophage proteins when they turn into foam cells. Their analysis revealed what they call a macrophage sterol responsive network (MSRN), including proteins already known to work together. Most of them are also found in one place, within microvesicles outside the macrophage cells.

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our HeartVigor.com News Pages.

MULTIPLE HEALTH CONCERNS SURFACE AS WINTER, VITAMIN D DEFICIENCES ARRIVE

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A string of recent discoveries about the multiple health benefits of vitamin D has renewed interest in this multi purpose nutrient, increased awareness of the huge numbers of people who are deficient in it, spurred research and even led to an appreciation of it as “nature’s antibiotic.” On issues ranging from the health of your immune system to prevention of heart disease and even vulnerability to influenza, vitamin D is now seen as one of the most critical nutrients for overall health. But it’s also one of those most likely to be deficient - especially during winter when production of the “sunshine vitamin” almost grinds to a halt for millions of people in the United States, Europe and other northern temperate zones.

Analogs of the vitamin are even being considered for use as new therapies against tuberculosis, AIDS, and other concerns. And federal experts are considering an increase in the recommended daily intake of the vitamin as more evidence of its value emerges, especially for the elderly.

“About 70 percent of the population of the United States has insufficient levels of vitamin D,” said Adrian Gombart, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. “This is a critical issue as we learn more about the many roles it may play in fighting infection, balancing your immune response, helping to address autoimmune problems, and even preventing heart disease.”

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE INCREASING IN YOUNGER CANADIANS

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Canadians of lower socioeconomic status at greatest risk The prevalence of heart disease and certain key risk factors - hypertension, diabetes, and obesity - are increasing in all age groups and most income groups in Canada found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/press/cmaj081629.pdf (www.cmaj.ca). This study, which looked at national data from 1994 to 2005, encompassed people aged 12 years and older sampling from Canadians of all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity increased most rapidly among younger people between 12 to 50 years of age.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto; Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario; University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Alberta; Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Statistics Canada. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER 21ST CENTURY PLAGUE

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Bacteria that can cause serious heart disease in humans are being spread by rat fleas, sparking concern that the infections could become a bigger problem in humans. Research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests that brown rats, the biggest and most common rats in Europe, may now be carrying the bacteria. Since the early 1990s, more than 20 species of Bartonella bacteria have been discovered. They are considered to be emerging zoonotic pathogens, because they can cause serious illness in humans worldwide from heart disease to infection of the spleen and nervous system.

“A new species called Bartonella rochalimae was recently discovered in a patient with an enlarged spleen who had travelled to South America,” said Professor Chao-Chin Chang from the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan. “This event raised concern that it could be a newly emerged zoonotic pathogen. Therefore, we decided to investigate further to understand if rodents living close to human environment could carry this bacteria.”

Read more in our HeartVigor.com News Pages.