AstraZeneca has begun preclinical trials on an antibody designed to reverse the antiplatelet effects of its heart drug Brilinta.

The treatment in question is MEDI2452, a neutralising antibody that binds to Brilinta/Brilique (ticagrelor) and AR-C124910XX, the ticagrelor active metabolite. AstraZeneca says it hopes the compound will rapidly and specifically reverse the effects of Brilinta in rare emergency situations such as urgent surgery, or in the event of major bleeding.

Marc Ditmarsch, global development lead for Brilinta, noted that “in certain emergencies, doctors need to have the option to swiftly reverse the effects of oral antiplatelet agents “in order to enable emergency surgery or a quick response to a major bleeding event without having to wait for the effects of the medicine to wear off”. Currently there are no US Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to counteract the antiplatelet effect and “if the circumstances demand it, we believe MEDI2452 has the potential to help address this need”.

Brilinta is key to AstraZeneca's future prospects and is growing slowly but surely, with third-quarter sales reaching $127 million, a leap of 75% on the like, year-earlier period. Reducing bleeding problems should help further growth.

Isis pact expanded

Meantime, AstraZeneca has again expanded its alliance with Isis Pharmaceuticals, this time  to develop new delivery methods for antisense oligonucleotides.

Initial project areas will be oncology and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. This builds on an existing pact signed in 2012 and subsequently expanded a year later.

Susan Galbraith, head of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit, said “this exciting collaboration very much supports [the firm’s]’s R&D in the area of RNA-based therapeutics”. If successful, we’ll have a way to selectivity modulate therapeutic targets in specific cell types that are intractable to small molecules and antibodies. This could lead to a number of ground-breaking drugs”.