A new study led by researchers from UCL (University College London) has found the likely reason why some cancer treatments can cause damage to the heart. This development brings safer cancer drugs one step closer.
Modern cancer drugs are effective in treating cancer, but some of them can cause damage to the heart, known as cardiotoxicity. The damage can range from slight changes in the heart's ability to pump blood to severe heart failure. The exact mechanisms by which these drugs cause damage have not been fully understood so far.
A new study, supported by the British Heart Foundation, has found certain proteins in the blood that can increase the chances of developing heart diseases, including heart failure. These proteins are also affected by cancer drugs that can cause damage to the heart. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
The study found proteins in the blood that are connected to heart diseases and can be affected by cancer drugs, which explains how some cancer treatments damage the heart. By identifying those at risk, better cancer treatments can be developed that avoid affecting these proteins.
The study has found new possible targets for drugs to treat heart diseases such as heart failure. These drugs could work by stopping proteins that increase the risk of developing heart diseases or by activating proteins that lower the risk.
To begin their research, the scientists conducted a study called genome-wide association. This involved analyzing the DNA of almost 37,000 individuals who did not have heart disease and were part of the UK Biobank study. Through this analysis, they identified genetic variations that were associated with changes in the ventricles, which are the heart's pumping chambers.
Our genes have instructions to make proteins, which are important for the body. By analyzing the DNA of almost 37,000 people without heart disease, researchers found 33 proteins linked to the risk of developing different heart diseases. These proteins are present in the blood and are coded for by genetic variants. Some of these proteins are also targeted by cancer drugs.
Dr. Floriaan Schmidt, the lead author from UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said that the proteins identified in the study can help in developing new drugs for cancer and heart diseases. The findings can provide a blueprint for drug development, making scientists more confident in designing drugs that can shrink tumors without causing damage to the heart or improve the heart's pumping action.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani from the British Heart Foundation has said that although there have been advancements in cancer treatment, there is a risk of heart damage caused by some cancer drugs.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani explained that this study has paved the way for the development of safer and more targeted drugs, reducing the risk of heart problems after cancer treatment. He believes that this research can help to make worries about heart damage after cancer treatment a thing of the past.
This research was also supported by the UKRI/NIHR Multimorbidity fund Mechanism and Therapeutics Research Collaborative and the Rosetrees Trust. (PB/Newswise)