Pill may prevent stent complication that re-blocks arteries

DALLAS, Oct. 1 New research suggests that an experimental drug may hold the key to preventing restenosis, a common complication of the heart procedure called stenting, which uses tiny mesh tubes to prop open clogged arteries. The findings are reported in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Restenosis is the term used to describe arteries that re-narrow following stenting, often because of accumulation of new tissue similar to scar tissue. When researchers gave the investigational drug everolimus to animals that underwent stenting, they discovered the drug reduced the growth of scar tissue in the stent from 46 percent to 40 percent depending upon the dose of drug given, says Renu Virmani, M.D., senior author of the study.

Recent advances using new and better stents combined with radiation treatments dramatically reduced the complication rate from stenting. Another experimental approach using drug-eluting stents is associated with even lower restenosis rates, but neither radiation nor the special coated stents completely eliminated the problem.

"Everolimus is very similar to another drug, sirolimus, that has shown promise in treatment of restenosis. The advantage of using an oral drug rather than a coated stent is that it gives us more control. With a stent, we don't know when the drug finishes working. With an oral drug we can give it for a short time, and then monitor its effect," says Virmani, chair, department of cardiovascular pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C.

Six New Zealand white rabbits received 1.5mg/kg per day of everolimus starting three days before stenting, which was reduced to 1 mg/kg per day from days 14 to 28 after stenting. Six others received a lower dose 1.5 mg/kg per day for one day before stenting followed by 0.75 mg/k for 28 days. Matching placebo groups were established for each treatment group.

Virmani says the rabbits receiving

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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