Research ArticleCARDIAC SIDE EFFECTS

Visnagin protects against doxorubicin-induced cardiomyopathy through modulation of mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase

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Science Translational Medicine  10 Dec 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 266, pp. 266ra170
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010189

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Taming the Red Devil

The cancer chemotherapy drug doxorubicin saves lives but its propensity to also inflict damage on the heart has earned it the nickname of the Red Devil. Liu et al. have now identified a compound that can prevent this drug-induced heart damage while leaving its cancer killing qualities intact. This agent, visnatin, was found among 3000 tested on a versatile piscine model, the zebrafish. After doxorubicin treatment, zebrafish hearts too suffer damage and visnagin protected them from injury. These salutary effects of visnagin were also apparent in mice, where it acts through mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase, a key metabolic enzyme. This or similar drugs may prove to be a valuable companion for doxorubicin, allowing it to acquire a less fiendish nickname.

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