New sugar may prevent heart disease

U. MELBOURNE (AUS) — A new type of sugar that includes selenium could help prevent heart disease by shutting down tissue-damaging acids, researchers say.

“Mary Poppins was right in saying: a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Although these compounds are not the kind of sugar most people would buy as a Valentine’s Day gift, we are still very excited by their potential to maintain a healthy heart,” says Corin Storkey, who made the discovery while studying at the University of Melbourne.


“Our seleno-sugar compounds work by scavenging hypohalous acids, a group of highly reactive chemicals that can damage tissues when produced in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or at excessive levels,” says Carl Schiesser, professor of chemistry.

“One predictor of future heart disease in patients is the raised level of the enzyme that produces these hypohalous acids.”

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in Australia in 2009, accounting for 16 percent of all deaths and more than car accidents, HIV, and cancer combined according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this year.

The group discovered their seleno-sugar compounds are able to prevent hypohalous acids from damaging important amino acids in human plasma, a key step in stopping the development of disease. They are now working to optimize their compounds for future pharmaceutical use.

“We are hoping that in the future our new chemicals will keep matters of the heart sweet,” says Storkey. “Well, at least health-wise!”

The study is published in journal Chemical Communications, and the compounds themselves have been filed under an international patent with the hope of future clinical use.

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