We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.


New Drug Shows Potential To Alleviate Heart Failure

An anatomical model of a heart.
Credit: Ali Hajiluyi on Unsplash

Want a FREE PDF version of this news story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "New Drug Shows Potential To Alleviate Heart Failure"

Listen with
Register for free to listen to this article
Thank you. Listen to this article using the player above.
Read time:

A novel drug is showing promise for alleviating heart failure, a common condition associated with sleep apnoea and a reduced lifespan.

The drug, known as AF-130, was tested in an animal model at Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland where researchers found it improved the heart’s ability to pump, but, equally important, prevented sleep apnoea, which itself reduces lifespan (see Nature Communications). “This drug does offer benefit for heart failure, but it’s two for the price of one, in that it’s also relieving the apnoea for which there is currently no drug, only CPAP (a breathing device), which is poorly tolerated,” says Professor Julian Paton, director of the University’s Manaaki Manawa, Centre for Heart Research.

When a person has a heart attack and subsequent heart failure, the brain responds by activating the sympathetic system, the ‘fight or flight’ response, as a way to stimulate the heart to pump blood. However, the brain persists with this activation of the nervous system, even when it is no longer required, and this together with the consequent sleep apnoea, contributes to the patient’s reduced life expectancy. Most patients die within five years of a heart failure diagnosis.

“This study has revealed the first drug to temper the nervous activity from the brain to the heart thereby reversing the heart’s progressive decline in heart failure,” says Professor Paton.

Want more breaking news?

Subscribe to Technology Networks’ daily newsletter, delivering breaking science news straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe for FREE

The part of the brain that sends nervous impulses to the heart is also controlling respiration, so this drug has a dual function, reducing the ‘fight or flight’ response while also stimulating breathing to stop the sleep apnoea. “These findings have real potential for improving the wellness and life expectancy of almost 200,000 people living with heart disease in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Professor Paton.

Another exciting factor for the scientists, who are from the University of Auckland and the University of São Paulo, Brazil, is that the drug is soon to be FDA approved, albeit for a different health issue, paving the way for human trials in the next year or two, Professor Paton says.

“Over recent decades there have been several classes of drugs that have improved the prognosis of heart failure,” says cardiology consultant and Associate Professor, Martin Stiles. "However, none of these drugs work in the way that this new agent does. So it is exciting to see a novel method that potentially reverses some features of heart failure."

Reference: Lataro RM, Moraes DJA, Gava FN, et al. P2X3 receptor antagonism attenuates the progression of heart failure. Nat Commun. 2023;14(1):1725. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37077-9

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.