Heart attack and stroke are the leading cause of death and disability in the western world and result in the death of about 50,000 Australians each year.
They are typically caused by blood clots that block blood flow to the heart or brain. Patients (except those stroke patients whose illness is caused by bleeding into the brain) are usually treated with aspirin, but this can increase the risk of bleeding and lead to life-threatening haemorrhages.
Associate Professor Shaun Jackson, from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash, said this new class of drugs, called PI 3-kinase inhibitors, may prove to be vitally important in treating heart attack and stroke patients by stopping formation of the problem-causing blood clots without causing excessive bleeding.
"Aspirin is the most widely used anti-clotting drug , however it is only effective at preventing fatal heart attack and stroke for about one in four patients," Dr Jackson said. "There is a major need for safer and more effective anti-clotting drugs. The 'holy grail' in the field is a drug that prevents disease-causing clots whilst not increasing the risk of bleeding."
Animal studies have shown that the drugs, developed by Dr Jackson and colleagues at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne, Cerylid Biosciences and the University College of London, do not increase the risk of bleeding.
Phase I trials in human volunteers have also yielded promising results.
The drugs were developed after Dr Jackson and colleagues identified the mechanism that promotes the formation of pathological blood clots (clots that lead to heart attack or stroke) and how
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