Pfizer experimental heart treatment meets latest Phase 3 study goals

Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday that a new, experimental cell drug once again enhanced survival in patients with serious heart conditions known as atherosclerosis, a defect that can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

“These encouraging results are the latest proof that AXT-4658, by enabling the body to keep heart tissue healthy longer, may help patients who suffer from heart disease,” E. Irving Whitaker, Pfizer’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.

AXT-4658 is a booster designed to boost metabolism and help maintain vital cardiovascular functions, according to the company.

The release from Pfizer is all the more significant considering it was all but abandoned last year, when the drug failed in phase three trials. But in January, Pfizer announced that the FDA had granted orphan drug status to the experimental therapy, which it plans to test as part of a broader cardiovascular trial.

But even before its latest results were announced, supporters of the drug expressed optimism that it would fare better, citing a biomarker or bio marker that may help identify patients who have inherited the genetic pathway through which AXT-4658 works. The hope was that such a finding would push the drug’s investigational Phase 2 study toward success.

Apatrosclerosis occurs when plaque forms in arteries. When this build-up builds-up, blood flow to and from the arteries is restricted, causing blood clots.

The condition is directly linked to higher incidence of death and a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. This prognosis can be improved through better treatment, such as the recently launched drug, tanezumab, for plaque buildup.

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