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Protein hope for blocked arteries


Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered a potential treatment for preventing blocked arteries – a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

The team of scientists found that the condition could be prevented by a modified form of a naturally-occurring protein, N-cadherin.

Blocked arteries develop when the thickening of arterial wall leads to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques which can eventually rupture and lead to the formation of potentially fatal blood clots.

In the latest study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, doctors Cressida Lyon and Sarah George at the Bristol Heart Institute found that by making a modified form of cadherin they can stabilise the plaques and prevent them from rupturing.

N-cadherin is a protein that is naturally produced by cells in the plaque, and helps neighbouring cells stick tightly together.

By designing a smaller, soluble form that could be transported in the bloodstream, the researchers found that soluble cadherin stabilised the plaques.

In a joint statement, the scientists said: “This study is the first demonstration that reduction of cell death with soluble N-cadherin can reduce the likelihood of plaque rupture.

“It highlights soluble N-cadherin as a potential therapeutic for blocked arteries and thereby heart attack and stroke.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

Bristol Heart Institute

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