New study on heart failure explores possibilities for personalized treatment

As more individuals are being diagnosed with heart failure, finding effective treatment methods is a priority for physicians and patients. A new study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications may have found a way to create a personalized treatment for the condition.

The study was completed by several institutions and medical centers from around the globe, including Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, Stanford University in Stanford, California, the Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, and the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

In Spain alone, more than 3 percent of the adult population has heart failure, and it is the leading reason for hospital admissions for people over the age of 65, said Javier Díez, MD, an author on the study and the director of research and innovation in the Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Department at the University of Navarra, in a statement.

“In view of this challenge, on the one hand existing healthcare resources must be optimized in order to reduce the number of new cases and improve the prognosis and quality of life of heart failure patients, and, on the other, to research the mechanisms that produce heart failure in order to develop treatments that are more effective and safe that the ones that exist at present,” Navarra said.

In the study, Navarra and the other researchers found that an excess of lysl oxidase-like 2 produces fibrosis of the cardiac muscle can slow down the heart and contribute to the development of heart failure. If the molecule is eliminated from the heart, it will in turn function better and prevent the onset and progress of heart failure, the study found.

"These results suggest that the lysyl oxidase-like 2 enzyme may be a target for the treatment of this disease,” Díez said.

Going forward, more tests on the molecule and how to treat patients who have an excess of it will be conducted at the University of Navarra. Medications to inhibit the molecule will also be developed, which will make it possible to personalize the treatment.  

“This strategy may be particularly valuable in the 50 percent of heart failure cases for which there is no effective treatment at present,” Díez said. “In these patients, the change in the performance of the heart is closely related to fibrosis of the cardiac muscle, and so the suppression of this enzyme is proposed as a very promising therapeutic alternative.”