Healthy Living

Acne Drug Found To Combat Artery Hardening

Calcification, or the depositing of calcium to help harden tissues, is an important process in our body, especially when it comes to the development of our bones. However, it can also cause some serious medical conditions, especially when it happens in our arteries. Thankfully, new research may have just found the potential cure to it, courtesy of a drug commonly used to treat acne.

Finding a cure for artery calcification

The study was co-led by Melinda J. Duer, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, and Catherine M. Shanahan, a professor of cell signaling at King's College London. The two professors and their team have been investigating artery calcification for more than a decade, but it’s only now that they’ve managed to make a real breakthrough.

As per the researchers, the antibiotic minocycline — commonly used to treat acne — can prevent any artery hardening by blocking PAR-triggered calcification.

PAR, which is short for poly(ADP-ribose), is a molecule that could form “dense liquid droplets with calcium ions.” This would then crystallize once they combine with the artery walls’ elastic tissues, causing calcification, which then results in the impeded flow of nourishing blood to tissues and organs.

Artery calcification raises the risk of many cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke and blood pressure. Furthermore, it can also increase the likelihood of dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.

"Artery hardening happens to everyone as they age," Duer said. "and is accelerated in patients on dialysis, where even children develop calcified arteries. But up until now we haven't known what controls this process and therefore how to treat it.”

With the help of Cycle Pharmaceuticals, the researchers were able to find a PARP inhibitor, which is a molecule that stops PAR production by blocking one of the enzymes that makes it. They were able to find this in minocycline, which so far is proving to be very effective in stopping arteries from turning stiff.

Moving forward, the team hopes to start human trials in the next two years.

blocked artery Statins help to prevent the dangerous buildup of plague in the arteries. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock