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Researchers at the University of Oxford have identified a drug that could ultimately help improve heart function in people with diabetes who have heart attacks.

An image depicting human heart cells, which have been programmed to develop from stem cells. Muscle is highlighted in red, while cell nuclei are shown in blue.

The drug, currently in clinical trials as a potential treatment for a form of anaemia, could help diabetic hearts to recover and reduce their risk of developing heart failure, according to research funded by the British Heart Foundation published in the journal Diabetes.

During a heart attack blood supply to the heart is reduced or cut off, starving the heart of oxygen (hypoxia). In diabetes heart cells are less able to tolerate hypoxia and therefore die more quickly.

Now, the research team has found that a drug known as molidustat can increase levels of a protein that helps cells to adapt and survive after they are starved of oxygen. They hope that giving molidustat to people with diabetes will help their hearts to recover after a heart attack and reduce their risk of further complications, such as heart failure.

Read the full story on the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics website

The story is also featured on the University of Oxford website

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