"As an inflammatory biologist and cardiologist, my primary interest is in heart disease, but my colleagues and I were aware of experimental research indicating a connection between cancer and inflammation, and we recognized that our cardiovascular clinical trial could be the ideal place to explore this link", Dr. Paul M. Ridker, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH, said in a press release.
Narasimhan, who said the company now plans to start separate cancer trials for canakinumab, said the drug could be particularly suitable for smokers with risks of both lung cancer and heart problems. (The "primary end point" for the trial wasn't one specific outcome, but rather a curious amalgam of three: a nonfatal heart attack, a nonfatal stroke, or a cardiovascular-related death.) Those getting the drug had 3.86 of these events per 100 person-years versus 4.50 for those in the placebo group.
The scientists from the Brigham and Women Hospital in the USA conducted a trial test for 25 years to know if decreasing inflammation in people who have already gone through a heart attack can actually lessen the risk of any other cardiovascular disease in future.
The drug should bolster Novartis stakes in the industry, especially on its last heart drug, Entresto flopping a great deal.
In the placebo group, lung cancer accounted for 26% of all cancers and 47% of all lung cancer deaths, as compared with 16% of cancers and 34% of cancer deaths in the canakinumab groups. These reductions are above the reduction in risk seen after taking statins alone. Outcomes were then tracked for up to four years. The theory, which sparked considerable skepticism among analysts, was that if you reduced inflammation by hitting the target, patients would stand a better chance of going without another potentially lethal reaction to their heart disease. The research team enrolled more than 10,000 patients who previously had a heart attack and had persistent, elevated levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a marker of inflammation. This revolutionary drug which is called "canakinumab" can effectively reduce the use of expensive interventions like by bypass surgery by above 30 percent as said by the researchers.
About 25 percent of heart attack patients will experience another cardiovascular event within five years, even if they do not have high cholesterol.
Said Ridker: "In my lifetime, I've gotten to see three broad eras of preventative cardiology". - First, we recognized the importance of diet, exercise and Smoking cessation.
Nearly 200,000 Britons a year suffer a heart attack and they are given medicines such as cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-thinning drugs to protect them.
Canakinumab is a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes interleukin-1β. "Now, we're cracking the door open on the third era". "It's very exciting", said the study's leader, Dr. Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
A question that still needs an answer is whether the effect of canakinumab on lung cancer is restricted to individuals with pre-existing atherosclerosis, he noted. Inflammation can affect tumor formation, growth and spread, so the reduction in lung cancer mortality adds fuel to the hypothesis that targeting inflammation could be a viable approach to treating and preventing cancer, Novartis executives believe.