A drug used to treat acne may also be useful to counteract the hardening of the arteries according to a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London. The researchers found that minocycline, an antibiotic used to treat acne, can prevent, at least in rats, the accumulation of calcium in the circulatory system and thus the hardening of the arteries.
There is currently no treatment for this condition. The hardening is caused by the accumulation of calcium deposits, accumulations that stiffen the arteries limiting the flow of blood to organs and tissues. The hardening of the arteries, a sort of biomineralisation, occurs for practically every human being as he gets older but can be accelerated under different conditions, for example in dialysis patients.
Guiding this calcification, as the scientists behind this study have discovered, is a particular molecule, called Poly ADP-ribose (PAR), a molecule that was thought to be only associated with DNA repair. PAR is produced by the enzymes PARP1 and PARP2, which in turn are expressed in response to DNA damage and oxidative stress. In an attempt to find a way to block or inhibit PARP, researchers after years of work identified six molecules contained in the antibiotic minocycline that prevented hardening.
The study, published in Cell Reports, shows how this antibiotic is highly effective in preventing hardening of the arteries and calcification of blood vessels. The researchers now hope to carry out the first experiments on patients in the coming months in order to realize potential treatments.