In a recently published paper ‘Fumarate is cardioprotective via activation of the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway’ by Houman Ashrafian and colleagues is published in the journal Cell Metabolism on Tuesday 6 March 2012. Fumarate is a simple chemical compound or metabolite that forms part of the normal metabolic pathway the body uses to break down food and release energy – the process known as the citric acid or Krebs cycle.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which was the major funder of the study, said: ‘This very promising study shows that fumarate, already safely trialled in patients for other conditions, including multiple sclerosis, might be repurposed for the benefit of heart patients. It provides strong foundations to build on in the future, and we look forward to seeing the results of the first clinical trials.’

The promising results in mice have laid the foundation for a human clinical trial to begin. Boosting levels of the simple compound fumarate in mice significantly reduces damage from a heart attack, an Oxford University-led study has shown. The amount of dead heart tissue after the heart attack as a proportion of the whole heart volume was 9.3% in mice given fumarate compared with 36.9% in untreated mice.

The findings of the study are published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The research was funded predominantly by the British Heart Foundation.

Nractivation has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage in cells. Free radical damage and oxidative stress have been linked to over 200 diseases and aging within the body.

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and conducted by a team of Oxford researchers studying NRF2.


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