The researchers used mice to develop a mathematical model of myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack.
The new model predicts several useful new drug combinations that could one day help treat heart attacks, according to researchers at Ohio State University.
Typically caused by blockages in the coronary arteries – or the vessels that supply blood to the heart – these cardiovascular events affect more than 800,000 Americans each year, and around 30% eventually die. But even for those who survive, the damage these attacks inflict on heart muscles is permanent and can lead to dangerous inflammation in affected areas of the heart.
Treatment to restore blood flow to these blocked passages in the heart often includes surgery and medication, or what is called reperfusion therapy. Nicolae Moise, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in biomedical engineering at Ohio State, said the study uses mathematical algorithms to assess the effectiveness of drugs used to fight the life-threatening inflammation that many patients suffer as a result of an attack.
“Biology and medicine are starting to become more mathematical,” said Moise. “There’s so much data that you have to start putting it into some sort of framework.” While Moise has worked on other mathematical models of animal hearts, he said the framework detailed in the current paper is the most detailed diagram of myocardial infarctions in mice ever made.
The research is published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.
Represented by a series of differential equations, the model created by Moise’s team was made using data from previous animal studies. In medicine, differential equations are often used to monitor the growth of diseases in graphical form.
But this study chose to model how certain immune cells like myocytes, neutrophils and macrophages – cells essential for fighting infection and necrosis (toxic damage to the heart) – respond to four different immunomodulating drugs over a period of time. one month. These drugs are designed to suppress the immune system so that it doesn’t cause as much damaging inflammation in the parts of the heart that have been damaged.
This research focused on the effectiveness of drugs one hour after treatment in mice.
Their findings showed that certain combinations of these drug inhibitors were more effective than others in reducing inflammation. “In medicine, mathematics and equations can be used to describe these systems,” Moise said. “Just observe, and you’ll find rules and a consistent story between them.
“With the therapies we study in our model, we can improve patient outcomes, even with the best medical care available,” he said.
Depending on their prior health, a person can take six to eight months to recover from a heart attack. The quality of care patients receive during these first weeks could set the tone for how long their road to recovery will last.
Because Moise’s simulation is purely theoretical, it won’t lead to improved therapies anytime soon. More precise mouse data is needed before their work becomes a boon to other scientists, but Moise said he sees the model as a potential tool in battling the ravages of heart disease.
“It will be a few years before we can actually integrate this kind of approach into real clinical work,” Moise said. “But what we are doing is the first step towards that.”
The study’s co-author was Avner Friedman, a professor of mathematics at Ohio State. This research was supported by the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at Ohio State and the National Science Foundation.
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