Wonder drug eases pressure, lifts heart

May 3rd, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 3 (IANS) Employing a powerful supercomputer, researchers screened 140,000 prospective drug compounds to identify one that dramatically lowers blood pressure, improves heart function and prevents damage to the organ. These findings could spur development of a new class of anti-hypertensive drugs to overcome two major problems associated with cardiovascular disease: high blood pressure (BP) and tissue damage or fibrosis.

“When people have heart attacks (or suffer hypertension) blood vessels get more rigid. We discovered a compound that reverses the fibrosis that makes the blood vessels more rigid,” said study author David Ostrov of University of Florida.

The American Heart Association estimates that 72 million people in US alone suffer high BP, a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack and death.

Enzyme ACE2 not only lowers levels of angiotensin II (a potent hormone that causes cardio-vascular disease) but also converts it to a hormone that helps protect the cardiovascular system.

Hypothesising that activating ACE2 could be beneficial, UF scientists set out to discover a compound that enhances the enzyme’s activity.

Researchers used a supercomputer to process 140,000 prospective drug compounds in a matter of weeks. The computer predicted which molecules would be most likely to enhance the activity of ACE2, rotating them in thousands of different orientations to see how they would bind to certain pockets on the enzyme’s surface.

Ostrov said the enzyme (identified by the computer) exists in two forms: like a Pac-Man with a mouth closed, and like a Pac-Man with a mouth wide open.

The findings appeared in May 1 edition of Hypertension.

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