Simple injection could limit damage from heart attacks and stroke
"This is a fascinating new achievement in the search for novel treatments to significantly reduce the tissue damage and impaired organ function that occur following ischaemia in widespread and serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes," said Professor Schwaeble. "This new potential therapy was also shown in animals to significantly improve outcomes of transplant surgery and may be applicable to any surgical procedure where tissue viability is at risk due to temporary interruption of blood flow.
"The main focus of our work was to identify a key molecular mechanism responsible for the overshooting inflammatory response that can cause substantial destruction to tissues and organs following their temporary loss of blood supply, a pathophysiological phenomenon called ischaemia/reperfusion injury," added Professor Schwaeble. "Limiting this inflammatory response in oxygen-deprived tissues could dramatically improve outcomes and survival in patients suffering heart attacks or strokes."
For more than seven years, the University of Leicester team has been working closely with a commercial partner, Omeros Corporation in Seattle (USA), to develop therapeutic antibodies for research and clinical applications. Omeros holds exclusive worldwide intellectual property rights to the MASP-2 protein, all therapeutic antibodies targeting MASP-2 and all methods for treating complement-mediated disorders by inhibiting MASP-2. The company has already begun manufacturing scale-up of an antibody for use in human clinical trials.
Professor Schwaeble's team and Omeros are also working with Professor Nilesh Samani, the British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology and Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester. It is anticipated that the first clinical trials evaluating Omeros' human antibody in myocardial infarction patients will be conducted in the Leicester Biomedical Research Unit , at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.
The development of this new technology was made possible through substantial and long-term grant support of the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, as well as through funding provided to Omeros Corporation by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.