Cardiovascular Disease & Diabetes Therapeutic
Atherosclerosis is a chronic, progressive disease which involves the blockage of the arteries, and is the major form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is often comorbid with obesity, insulin resistance and/or diabetes. This disease is the result of the formation of atherosclerotic plaques which obstruct the arteries and decrease blood flow to vital organs. Current therapies do not aim to remove these plaques. In fact, the only treatments for atherosclerosis are either a coronary bypass or expansion of the arteries; both of which are highly invasive. Furthermore, treatment of atherosclerosis with drugs that lower blood pressure may prevent organs from receiving adequate oxygen and nutrients as the plaques would prevent adequate blood flow, which may cause eventual organ failure.
In response to the shortcomings of current treatments, Wits researchers have developed a biopharmaceutical agent which decreases lipid concentration in target cells. The shortening of telomeres has been linked to the development and progression of cardiovascular disease and its comorbidities. The proposed biopharmaceutical agent, a protein fragment laminin receptor, works by increasing telomerase activity and therefore telomere length in cells; counteracting the effects of shortening telomeres. This process has the effect of increasing cell survival and plays a role in the treatment and prevention of CVD and diabetes. The biopharmaceutical agent has successfully undergone in vitro studies and is currently being tested in vivo in mice.
Key benefits of this solution include the following:
- Less invasive than existing treatments;
- Fewer side-effects; and
- Therapeutic compound is found naturally in the body.