Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Making a Comeback

An established irregular heartbeat drug could have new lease of life treating other diseases

04 December 2019

Making a Comeback

It’s always pleasing to find that an old item of clothing has come back into fashion. The same is true for drugs: old treatments can turn out to have surprising new uses, once researchers discover more about how they work and match them to the underlying processes involved in disease. One example is ouabain, from a family of drugs known as cardiac glycosides that are used to treat irregular heartbeats. Curiously, ouabain seems to get rid of old and damaged cells that have gone into a type of cellular ‘sleep’ called senescence. The image on the left shows senescent cells highlighted in red, which start to disappear after ouabain treatment (right). In recent years, scientists have discovered that senescent cells play a role in many diseases, including cancer, arthritis, cataracts and clogged arteries, so ouabain or related drugs could potentially have a new lease of life for treating many diseases.

Read more about this work from the MRC LMS here

Written by Kat Arney

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