Researchers have discovered a single gene that not only inhibits the growth and spread of breast tumours, but also makes hearts healthier.
In 2012, medical school researchers discovered the suppressive effects of the gene HEXIM1 on breast cancer in mouse models and have now demonstrated that it also enhances the number and density of blood vessels in the heart - a sure sign of cardiac fitness.
Scientists re-expressed the HEXIM1 gene in the adult mouse heart and found that their hearts grew heavier and larger without them doing any exercise.
Additionally they found that the animals' resting heart rates decreased; they also discovered that untrained transgenic mice ran twice as long as those without any genetic modification.
The researchers showed that increasing blood vessel growth through the artificial enhancement of HEXIM1 levels improved overall function - HEXIM1 may be a possible therapeutic target for heart disease.
The results build on the team's findings last year that showed increased levels of HEXIM1 suppressed the growth of breast cancer tumours.
Using a well-known mouse model of breast cancer metastasis, researchers induced the gene's expression by locally delivering a drug, hexamethylene-bisacetamide using an FDA-approved polymer.
The strategy increased local HEXIM1 levels and inhibited the spread of breast cancer. The team is currently making a more potent version of the drug and intends to move to clinical trials within a few years.
The study has been published online in journal Cardiovascular Research. (ANI)