Nov. 28, 2006 Efforts to understand the link between the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor arthritis drugs and heart disease have had an unanticipated benefit in leading to development of an engineered protein with "great potential" as a new treatment for heart disease, according to a new scientific report.
In an article scheduled for the Nov. 28 issue of the ACS weekly journal Biochemistry, University of Texas's Ke-He Ruan and colleagues point out that the COX-2 drugs like the banned Vioxx have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis.
However, studies now suggest that those drugs also may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes by decreasing the body's production of prostacyclin (a blood vessel protector that dilates blood vessels and prevents blood clots) and increasing production of thromboxane (which constricts vessels and promotes clot formation).
A drug that increases prostacyclin levels and decreases thromboxane could be an ideal way to prevent and treat inflammation and cardiovascular disease, they state. Ruan's group reports taking a step in that direction.
They report linking together two enzymes to engineer a protein to form a "Super Enzyme" with three catalytic functions that makes cells grown in laboratory cultures continuously produce protective prostacyclin. The enzyme has advantages over another proposed strategy that involves increasing prostacyclin levels by administering the COX gene into cells, they add.
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