Heart researchers hunt for drugs that rein in mystery protein

New research is highlighting a potential role for a mystery protein in heart disease, and investigators say that it represents a new target for drug developers and diagnostic test makers.

The protein is progerin, which is accumulated in patients with a rare aging disease called progeria. Children who suffer from the disease often die from heart attacks or strokes by the age of 13. But the new study indicates that the protein gradually accumulates in everyone, although in smaller quantities.

"The protein is bad news,'' Tom Misteli, a cell biologist at the National Cancer Institute, tells the Wall Street Journal. Misteli has begun work aimed at finding drugs that can lower progerin levels in cells. And Elizabeth Nabel, president of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, says that it could be a risk factor for the scarring of blood vessels.

But complicating the field for researchers, the same investigators point out, is that the same protein may help protect people from cancer.

- here's the article from the Wall Street Journal