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International study launched testing new drug combination to cut cardiovascular disease

A major international study to test whether a new combination treatment that increases good "HDL" cholesterol prevents heart attacks and strokes will start to recruit patients later this year, it was announced today (Wednesday 31 May).

It will recruit 20,000 patients with vascular disease from the UK, China and Scandinavia to investigate whether combining niacin with a new drug (MK-0524A) that minimises niacin's side-effects (chiefly facial flushing) can drive down still further the risk of serious heart attacks and strokes among people already taking treatment to lower their bad "LDL" cholesterol levels effectively.

It is being co-ordinated at Oxford University by the Clinical Trial Service Unit (CTSU), the research unit famous for running huge international studies, including the ground-breaking Heart Protection Study (HPS) which showed that a third of all heart attacks and strokes can be safely avoided in people at risk of vascular disease by using statins to lower LDL cholesterol.

The new study called HPS2-THRIVE (Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events) will be funded through a 42million grant to Oxford University by the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. (Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA), developers of the combined HDL raising tablet. However, the CTSU has designed the study and will be responsible for coordinating it and analysing its results, independently of the funders.

Large-scale randomised studies have shown that lowering LDL cholesterol by about 1mmol/l for four to five years cuts the risks of heart attacks and strokes by about a quarter, and recent studies suggest that more intensive LDL-lowering can produce extra benefits. Even so, the risk among patients who already have vascular disease remains high, but there is limited scope for lowering LDL cholesterol much more.

So, the Oxford research team are taking a different approach by testing a combination tablet that can enable people to to
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Contact: Margaret Willson
m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk
44-153-677-2181
Clinical Trial Service Unit, Oxford University
30-May-2006


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