Back to Top Discovery could lead to new treatments for heart failure - The Ottawa Hospital
 

Discovery could lead to new treatments for heart failure

 

Dr. Lynn Megeney’s research team found that the protein cardiotrophin could repair heart damage and improve blood flow in animal models of heart failure.

Sharon MacDonald’s parents taught her to finish what she started. But living with heart failure has taught her a different philosophy.

“Pace yourself,” said the 68-year-old Ottawa resident. “If you can’t finish what you start, don’t worry about it. Take a rest first.”

Like many patients with heart failure, MacDonald’s heart is weakened and cannot keep up with her body’s demands. She experiences fatigue and shortness of breath, especially when walking up hills.

Image of Sharon MacDonald-Heart Failure Patient

Sharon MacDonald lives at a different pace because of her heart failure. The discovery that a protein can trick the heart into growing in a healthy way could one day provide new treatments for patients like her.

“My heart function is very low,” she said. “So I slow myself down. If there’s somewhere to sit, like the bench at a bus stop, I sit down and rest for five to 10 minutes before continuing on.”

There is currently no cure for heart failure like MacDonald’s. She manages her condition with medication, a pacemaker and a healthy lifestyle, as well as support from her siblings.

But Ottawa researchers have discovered that a protein called cardiotrophin 1 (CT1) may be a potential treatment for heart failure.

Image of how the treatment works

“We found that CT1 causes heart muscles to grow in a healthy way and it also stimulates blood vessel growth in the heart,” said Dr. Lynn Megeney, senior author of the study published in Cell Research and a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. “This actually increases the heart’s ability to pump blood, just like what you would see with exercise and pregnancy.”

The research team found that the protein could repair heart damage and improve blood flow in animal models of heart failure.

“This experimental therapy is very exciting, particularly because it shows promise in treating both left and right heart failure,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, a cardiologist, senior scientist and Executive Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa. “Currently, the only treatment for right heart failure is a transplant.”

Drs. Megeney and Stewart are hoping to begin human testing of this protein, although it will take a number of years before it could reach patients as a standard therapy.

Until then, MacDonald will continue to live at her heart’s pace. “Everything is done in my time, and when my body says I can,” she said.

image of cardiotrophin treatment using a heart of a rat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Comment

Comment on this post

Your email address will not be published.

*


You might also like…

Made-in-Ottawa tool helps decide when critically ill patients can breathe on their own

Over the past two years of the pandemic, more Canadians than ever have required mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. The Ottawa Hospital is the first hospital in the world to evaluate an innovative medical device that uses artificial intelligence to predict when critically ill patients are ready to breathe on their own.

Dream vacation becomes nightmare after COVID-19 strikes

Sun and sand turned to fear and uncertainty when Jim and Joanne Booth, married for 57 years, tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. Read about their journey back home to receive life-saving care at The Ottawa Hospital.

Patient says thank you after Emergency Department staff save his life

After being rushed to the Emergency Department of The Ottawa Hospital, patient Michael Crawford wants to thank the people who saved his life.

Giving every COVID-19 patient the chance to participate in research

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Irene and Rebecca have been on the front lines explaining all the available clinical trials to these patients and their families, often during those first difficult days of hospitalization.

Patient gets life-changing diagnosis thanks to Open Science

For years, doctors thought Jenna Keindel had limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, even though they couldn’t find the exact gene that was causing the disease. This all changed when Jenna read a research article about an autoimmune disorder that mimicked muscular dystrophy – sending her life, and diagnosis, on an entirely new path.

COVID-19 timeline: A year in review

When COVID-19 first arrived in Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital was ready to respond. Explore the COVID-19 timeline to learn how care teams, researchers and the community have come together over the past year.

This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.