AstraZeneca drug helps reverse heart disease, epilepsy and more

AstraZeneca is one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. It sells everything from heart drugs to cancer medicines and treatments for psychiatric illness. Last week, as part of that effort, it announced a major new clinical trial for a drug that will hope to be effective in certain cancers. And on Wednesday, it also announced news that another trial, to prevent strokes, also appears to be heading in the right direction.

AstraZeneca hopes that AZD1419 will be able to inhibit a protein called covalent hydroxylase-19 (COVID-19), a major regulator of the clotting process. Studies in mice have found that blocking COVID-19 in such a way is able to prevent blood clots in the brain. In other words, it’s found to prevent stroke. This year’s TRNS study put this to the test in patients with a low risk of stroke, suggesting that AZD1419 is effective.

One of the TRNS study’s main goals was to show the drug prevented strokes by more than 80 percent in two-thirds of patients. While the TRNS trial did not show that AZD1419 could prevent stroke in the greater population, AstraZeneca said that its drugs exhibited good efficacy in a small portion of the patients. It says that the findings of TRNS are promising enough to confirm the results of another study, the TRAFFIC study, in which AZD1419 is tested against drugs to prevent clotting. AstraZeneca said those results are expected by the end of the year. “Based on these promising early results, we will continue to evaluate AZD1419 for the prevention of stroke, and the potential as a treatment for conditions caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure,” the company said in a statement.

The TRAFFIC study will measure whether AZD1419 can reduce the rate of strokes in patients who are not already taking anti-clotting drugs. If AZD1419 works in those patients, it could drastically reduce the number of strokes — hence, the reason for the clinical trial, and why AstraZeneca is funding it. Strokes, which can lead to serious, life-altering damage, are a leading cause of death and disability.

To fund both the TRAFFIC and TRNS trials, AstraZeneca has been selling secondary stock with a so-called deferred offering of shares. “This cash could be used for product development, research and development, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate purposes, if it decides,” said AstraZeneca spokeswoman Tricia Garnett. “For our existing shareholders, on the other hand, this isn’t an issue.”

Read the full story at National Geographic.

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