Cancer Treatment: Nor-1 a Protein That Can Limit Heart Damage from Chemotherapy

Norwegian researchers have identified a protein called NOR-1 (Neuron-Derived Orphan Receptor 1)  that has been shown to protect the heart from the cardiac side effects of chemotherapy.

Cancer Patient

Cancer Patient

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Hair loss, tingling, diarrhea, brittle nails, weakened immune system… These various symptoms can occur after chemotherapy. Among the possible side effects of chemotherapy are heart problems. These “can occur especially if anthracyclines such as doxorubicin or epirubicin have been administered. This effect is related to the total dose of the drugs, which is why the maximum number of treatment cycles is often limited,” explains the National Cancer Institute.

Recently, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found a way to limit the occurrence of these chemotherapy-induced heart problems. To that end, they conducted a study published in the journal Biomedicines.

NOR-1 protein could keep more cells alive

“Physical activity has been shown to protect the heart from doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity (a form of toxicity that specifically affects the heart muscle), but the exact mechanism is still unknown,” the scientists said. The scientists knew that the protein, called NOR-1 (Neuron-Derived Orphan Receptor 1), which is activated by exercise, has been shown to act against hypoxia or oxygen deprivation. This protein also contributed to the survival of many cells.

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“Therefore, we hypothesized that the NOR-1 protein might protect cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) from the cellular stress caused by doxorubicin,” the scientists said. To determine the protective effect of this protein on the heart, they conducted experiments to test its effect on human cells in vitro.

They found that administration of the NOR-1 protein reduced cell death and kept the cells healthy. “Our results suggest that NOR-1 protein may serve as a potential cardioprotective protein in response to doxorubicin-induced cellular stress,” the study authors concluded.

Final thought

Administration of the NOR-1 protein would limit the occurrence of doxorubicin-induced cardiac damage, reduce cell death and keep the heart safe. In fact, the inclusion of the protein in the cancer treatment regimen might allow oncologists to increase dosages of chemotherapy agents without increasing toxicity to the heart thus increasing the chances that cancer will be destroyed.

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Overexpression of Neuron-Derived Orphan Receptor 1 (NOR-1) Rescues Cardiomyocytes from Cell Death and Improves Viability after Doxorubicin Induced Stress



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