The coronary vessels are blocked in coronary heart disease. If physicians dilate the vessels with a catheter, the deposits (plaques) can tear and damage the walls of the blood vessels. Such small damages are a risk factor for circulatory disorders and heart attacks, as platelets can adhere to these sites and clots can form. Patients therefore receive blood thinning drugs that prevent platelet accumulation during the procedure. The disadvantage of the drugs used to date is that they also increase the risk of potentially life‑threatening bleedings, because they inhibit a central step of haemostasis, or platelet accumulation, in the entire body. The purpose of the DZHK study, which is headed by the German Heart Centre Munich, is to investigate whether the new antiplatelet drug Revacept reduces the formation of blood clots during cardiac catheterisation without increasing the bleeding risk. In comparison to conventional blood thinners, Revacept only binds to the damaged sites in the vessel and shields them so that no platelets can accumulate there. “Revacept is like a plaster that seals the lesion in a targeted manner”, exemplifies PD Dr. Stefanie Schüpke of the German Heart Centre Munich.
From the laboratory to the patient
Years of intensive basic research, in which scientists at LMU Munich and the Technical University Munich researched how platelets adhere to damaged vessel sites, preceded the development of Revacept. “It was crucial to target structures that distinguish between healthy and atherosclerotic vessels”, explains Prof. Adnan Kastrati of the German Heart Centre Munich, one of the chief investigators. For this reason, the scientists focused on the adhesion of platelets to the collagen that only protrudes into the blood stream where vessel walls are damaged. The agent Revacept was created based on their findings. It binds to the collagen of the damaged sites in a targeted manner and thus prevents the adhesion of platelets. “Revacept is an example of successful translational research, in which the findings from basic research lead to the development of innovative therapies”, clarifies Prof. Thomas Eschenhagen, the representative of the DZHK Board of Directors.
For the first time in patients with coronary heart disease
Revacept was further developed into a drug for use in humans by the biotech company advanceCOR, a spin-off of the Technical University Munich. A previous study with healthy volunteers has already proven that Revacept is safe and well tolerated. Moreover, a clinical trial is already being conducted investigating Revacept in stroke patients. In the upcoming study, 332 patients with a coronary heart disease for whom a catheterisation is planned will be examined. Some patients will be treated with Revacept in addition to the usual medication. During the study, bleeding risk will be monitored and a marker in the blood will be used to investigate whether Revacept sufficiently prevents damage of the heart muscle. In total, six DZHK sites are participating in the study, which is co-financed by the manufacturer, advanceCOR GmbH in Martinsried.