“We were testing if probenecid was safe for patients,” says Jack Rubinstein, MD, associate professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease, and corresponding author for the study. “We know that it was very likely to be safe because the medicine had been taken by people of all ages for decades. It has a very strong safety profile. We were quite happily surprised it improved the two main ways in how the heart functions. It improves how the heart contracts and how it relaxes.”
“This is the first time probenecid has been used in heart failure patients and we showed it increases the ejection fraction in patients with heart failure,” says Robbins. “It was exciting to be able to see this medicine work from the bench to the bedside.”
“The medicine works in ways we know about and in ways we don’t know about,” says Rubinstein. “For the past four or five years we have been figuring out some of the ways the medicine works. We have figured out a lot of them, but there is still a lot we don’t know.”
“The repercussions are potentially significant–if we are able to confirm this experiment in larger studies with longer-term follow up–this could present a new way of treating heart failure for which there are limited medical therapies available,” says Rubinstein.
“Left ventricular assist devices, pacemakers, heart transplants and medications are available to treat heart failure patients, but outcomes for patients with heart failure are still worse than outcomes for the vast majority of cancer patients,” says Rubinstein. “That’s what we want to effectively change.”