- New Treatment for Pulmonary Hypertension

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A Peek at the Pump
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New Treatment for Pulmonary Hypertension


      May 31, 2000 (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto may have found a new therapy for a rare lung disorder called pulmonary hypertension.

      The disease causes blood pressure to rise substantially in a vessel (the pulmonary artery) that carries oxygen-depleted blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs. The disease affects eight out of 100,000 people and leads to progressive heart failure, respiratory failure and death.

      Using rats with pulmonary hypertension, Dr. Marlene Rabinovitch and colleagues found that rats treated with compounds that inhibit the activity of an enzyme called serine elastase survived much longer than untreated animals. Where pulmonary artery pressure increased by as much as 200 percent in untreated animals, the rats that got the compounds had a return to normal pressure. After two weeks, survival in the treated rats was 86 percent, compared with zero survivors in the untreated group.

      Serine elastase is one of a number of enzymes which are released at sites of inflammation and cause extensive tissue damage.

      The information could lead to the development of similar drugs for the human version of the condition. The study is published in the June issue of Nature Medicine.

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