Toronto: Resveratrol - a compound found in red wine and nuts - can be used to develop new drugs to treat a common heart condition, scientists have found.
An international research team led by medical scientists at the University of Alberta has shown that new medications based on resveratrol can help treat a common heart-rhythm problem known as atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm problem affecting 1 in 200 people. It carries a five-fold increased risk of stroke, as well as an increased risk of heart failure and death.
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher Peter Light and his colleagues discovered that new resveratrol-based drugs they created that were used in the lab, helped regulate electrical activity in the heart by inhibiting irregular electrical currents, and by reducing the length of abnormal heart-rhythm episodes.
These new medications targeted multiple activities in the cell, whereas current medications for heart rhythm problems target just one or two specific areas.
The team is now working on advancing their drug design.
Light expects that clinical trials with the advanced drug design will start within the next three to five years.
"We are at the next stage of developing a new oral medication for atrial fibrillation that patients could take on a daily basis to prevent this condition from occurring," said Light.
"We are improving the medication's solubility, absorption, how it is metabolised and how long it stays in the blood stream," Light added.
Few medications are currently on the market to help treat atrial fibrillation effectively and those medications may have many serious side effects. Since resveratrol is a natural product, researchers hope the new drug would be better tolerated by the body.
The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.