Ohio State researchers have created a mathematical model of a heart attack that can predict new drug combinations that could be used to treat these cardiovascular events.
More than 800,000 Americans suffer heart attacks, in which blood flow in the heart is reduced or blocked, each year, depending on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even those who survive are often left with permanent damage and dangerous inflammation, taking six to eight months to recover.
According to the study published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology available online April 12. Specifically, the study modeled how cells vital to preventing toxic damage to the heart – known as necrosis – respond positively to four different drugs over a month.
According to the study, these four drugs work by suppressing the immune system so that it doesn’t cause as much inflammation in areas of the heart that have been damaged. The study found that some combinations of these drugs worked better than others at reducing inflammation after a heart attack.
There are several ways to treat a heart attack – including surgery to create new passages for blood, tubing or stent implants to open an artery, and the use of immunomodulating drugs, which suppress the immune system to prevent as much inflammation in damaged areas of the heart . Generally, only one type of immune-modulating drug is used at a time to treat a heart attack.
Avner Friedman, a distinguished professor of mathematics and physical sciences and co-author of the study, said in an email that previous studies based on the use of a drug had shown little progress, but that this study had more success.
“Treatment with certain specific combinations of two drugs can significantly reduce damage to muscles and tissues that were not directly affected by the heart attack,” Friedman said.
Friedman said that even if the study results show progress in finding treatments for heart attacks, it will take a long time for these results to have an impact on treatments in the real world.
“First of all, the above studies are preclinical, and it takes time to move into clinical trials with a drug,” Friedman said. “And after each of the drugs is approved and passes phases one, two, and three, only then can the FDA consider a combination of two of those drugs.”
Friedman said that although this study is preclinical, it shows a significant change in the way medical research is conducted.
“I’ve been working on mathematical disease modeling since coming to OSU, often in conjunction with medical school professors, and it seems to me that the medical community is increasingly understanding that math is an important new tool. for medical research,” Friedman said.