Moderna announce promising study in mRNA drug for heart failure

pharmafile | November 16, 2021 | News story | Manufacturing and Production  

The biotechnology company Moderna have announced positive data from the AstraZeneca-led Phase IIa EPICCURE trial, evaluating the use of a messenger RNA (mRNA) in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. The study revealed that injecting AZD8601 directly into the heart muscle of patients undergoing the surgery seemed to improve heart function.

The broader potential of Moderna’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine is being explored in a new AstraZeneca-partnered candidate for heart failure, suggesting that mRNA-based therapies might have a role beyond vaccinations for infectious disease.

The Phase II study met the primary endpoint of safety and tolerability for AZD8601, a ‘naked’ mRNA coding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A). VEGF is a protein stimulating formation of new blood vessels and the reparation of damaged heart muscle.

In the study of 11 patients, seven were treated with AZD8601 VEGF-A mRNA, while four received placebo injections. All seven patients treated with AZD8601 had NT-proBNP levels below heart failure limit at 6 months follow-up, compared to one out of the four patients treated with the placebo.

“Over one billion heart cells can be lost during a heart attack,” shared Mene Pangalos, head of AstraZeneca’s Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals Research & Development. “These early results indicate the potential of mRNA therapeutics in stimulating VEGF-A production, to provide reparative and disease-modifying options for patients with heart failure and other ischaemic vascular diseases.”

Heart failure affects approximately 40 million adults globally, and 7.6 million in the UK. Mortality is estimated  to be around 25-50% in patients, at only five years from diagnosis. In the UK, there are approximately 450 deaths every day resulting from a heart or circulatory disease.

Ana Ovey

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