Scientists from the University of Aberdeen say that a drug used to treat breast cancer and diabetes can also “melt away” fat inside arteries.
In studies on mice, the scientists found that a single dose of the drug Trodusquemine could reverse the effects of atherosclerosis, a disease that can cause numerous heart problems. The research is published in the journal Clinical Science.
“Trodusquemine has already been trialed for treatment of diabetes and breast cancer but this is the first time it has been used in models of atherosclerosis,” said Professor Mirela Delibegovic, lead author of the study, in a statement.
“These have only been tested at pre-clinical level, in mice, so far but the results were quite impressive and showed that just a single dose of this drug seemed to completely reverse the effects of atherosclerosis.”
Everyone has some level of atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. It can be a big problem for people who are overweight or who have underlying cardiovascular conditions.
It causes the build-up of fatty material inside arteries. Over time this material can grow bigger, until the arteries become narrow and prevent enough blood passing through.
In these tests, the mice treated with just a single dose of Trodusquemine had less fatty plaques over time, leading to the claims that it had melted away fat. The drug stops an enzyme called PTP1B, which is something that’s more prevalent in people with obesity or diabetes.
The drug was also found to stimulate a protein called AMPK, which mimics exercise and reduces chronic inflammation. This is the first time the drug has been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The research has only been conducted in mice so far, but the scientists hope to test it in human patients in future.
“Trodusquemine is in early clinical trials for the treatment of diabetes,” said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, in the statement.
“This study shows it can also limit the build-up of fatty atherosclerotic plaques in mice. If we see the same effect in patients, the drug may prove even more useful than currently hoped for.”