April 20, 2024

Spider Venom-Derived Drug Shows Promise in Treating Heart Attack and Stroke

A research team from the University of Queensland has made significant progress in developing a spider venom-based molecule as a potential treatment for heart attack and stroke. Associate Professor Nathan Palpant and Professor Glenn King from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience have previously demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug candidate Hi1a in protecting cells from damage caused by these cardiovascular events. They have now conducted a series of preclinical tests to assess the drug’s performance in real-life treatment scenarios.

The findings, published in the European Heart Journal, mark a significant step towards understanding the therapeutic potential of Hi1a. “These tests are a major step towards helping us understand how Hi1a would work as a therapeutic – at what stage of a heart attack it could be used and what the doses should be,” said Dr. Palpant. Importantly, the study revealed that Hi1a specifically interacts with cells in the injured area of the heart during an attack, without binding to healthy regions. This feature reduces the likelihood of potential side effects.

Hi1a, discovered by Professor King in the venom of the K’gari funnel web spider, has the potential to reduce heart and brain damage caused by lack of oxygen during heart attacks and strokes. The drug prevents cell death, offering a promising solution for preventing the severe consequences of these cardiovascular events. “Our testing and safety studies have provided evidence that Hi1a could be an effective and safe therapeutic,” said Professor King, who recently received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his work in developing insecticides from spider venom.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, primarily attributed to heart attacks and strokes. Despite the prevalence of these conditions, there are currently no drugs available on the market to mitigate the damage caused by such events. “An effective drug to treat heart attack would have worldwide impact, providing a breakthrough to improve the lives of millions of individuals living with heart disease,” highlighted Dr. Mark Smythe, a UQ researcher involved in the study.

The research team, which also included Dr. Meredith Redd from IMB, as well as Dr. Melissa Reichelt and Dr. Yusuke Yoshikawa from UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, is optimistic about the potential of Hi1a as a therapeutic agent for heart attack and stroke. The next steps involve further studies to determine the optimal dosage and treatment timing for Hi1a, potentially paving the way for a breakthrough in the treatment of these life-threatening cardiovascular events.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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