A single dose of the investigational anti-inflammatory inclacumab, developed by Roche and Genmab,  considerably reduces damage to heart muscle during angioplasty.

That was the conclusion of a Phase II trial, the data for which has been presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in San Francisco. The 530-patient study, led by Jean-Claude Tardif of the University of Montreal, compared the effects of one of two doses of inclacumab, an antibody that blocks P-selectin, a molecule that drives inflammation and plays an important role in vascular disease, with placebo.

Patients were randomised to receive an infusion of inclacumab at 20 mg/kg or 5 mg/kg or placebo one to 24 hours before angioplasty.Dr Tardif and his team then measured the subjects' levels of troponin I, which is a marker used clinically to diagnose heart attack.

They found that inclacumab reduced troponin l levels by 24 %. "It is very exciting to discover that a single dose of inclacumab can provide benefits," said Dr Tardif, adding that "inclacumab could indeed become an integral part of the therapeutic arsenal of modern cardiology if we can reproduce these results in subsequent studies".

He added that "we could use the drug for a broader patient population, or for all patients who present with a heart attack, but this will require further study". Each year, more than one million coronary artery angioplasty procedures are conducted in the USA to treat atherosclerosis.

Roche is conducting Phase II studies of inclacumab in acute coronary syndrome and prevention of saphenous vein graft disease.