New drug on the horizon?

Scientists at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDI) in Salisbury Cove, Maine published a paper describing a new drug called MSI-1436 which has the potential of restoring normal heart function following a Heart Attack. The paper was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal npj Regenerative Medicine and details the promising results obtained from using MSI-1436 on mice and zebrafish.

One of the authors, MDI scientist Viravuth P. Yin, called the new drug a “game-changer” when it comes to tackling Heart Disease, the leading cause of death in humans.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.5 million people die of cardiovascular disease every year and millions more are left debilitated as there currently is no treatment to restore normal function following a heart attack. However, this could all change if MSI-1436 proves effective in humans.

Initial testing

The drug was initially used on zebrafish, an animal already capable of regenerating almost any body part. With the help of MSI-1436, the regeneration rate improved by 200 to 300 percent. Scientists found similar encouraging results when testing MSI-1436 on lab mice. The next logical step would be to begin testing the heart attack drug on pigs since their hearts closely resemble ours.

Of course, this is all leading up to clinical trials on humans. Scientists at MDI are hopeful these tests will perform well for two reasons. From an evolutionary perspective, mice and zebrafish are hundreds of millions of years apart which increases the likelihood that MSI-1436 will be effective on other life forms such as humans.

Furthermore, the drug has already been administered to people in Phase 1 and 1b clinical trials for unrelated conditions. These tests showed that humans could tolerate the drug in much higher quantities than were used to stimulate heart regeneration in animal subjects. According to MDI President Kevin Strange, this fortuitous event shaved years off the development of the drug, increasing the chances that MSI-1436 will eventually make it to the market as an effective new treatment for heart attack sufferers.