News Release

January 19, 2006

Contact: Kristina Goodnough, 860-679-3700

New Molecule May Preserve Heart Muscle

UConn Health Center, NIDDK collaboration may lead to new class of drugs

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Cardiologists at the UConn Health Center, working in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered a molecule they believe may be helpful in protecting heart muscle.

Typically, heart attacks damage heart muscle by limiting or blocking the flow of blood. Once damaged, the muscle cannot be revived, limiting the heart’s ability to circulate blood.

The new molecule can stimulate two different proteins that are distinct receptors for adenosine, a substance in the body that triggers a protective effect on heart muscle. “The chemical we have identified may be able to reduce the effects of a heart attack. It could become a new class of drugs that would be useful protecting heart muscle for those who have suffered a heart attack or for those who are at risk of a heart attack,” says Bruce Liang, M.D., director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health Center.

The novel active substance was prepared through a rational design process, taking into account the three-dimensional properties of the molecule and chemically constraining its flexibility. “Many iterations of structural modification of the natural protective substance adenosine were used to achieve the desired pharmacological properties in the new molecule,” says Kenneth Jacobson, Ph.D., chief of the molecular recognition section of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the NIH.

“Our work demonstrates the value of collaboration among those with expertise in chemistry and biology,” says Liang, who has been working with Jacobson for more than 10 years.

Their study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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