(RxWiki News) Antiplatelet medications, while highly effective, can put surgical patients at risk of serious bleeding. But a new, safer drug may be on the horizon.
A new drug designed to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming in the arteries of patients undergoing surgery appears safe and effective, a new study found. What's more is the effects of the new drug — called PZ-128 — are uniquely reversible.
Similar to blood thinners (anticoagulants), antiplatelets are drugs used to stop blood cells from sticking together and forming blood clots. Blood clots can block blood flow to the heart or brain, causing heart attack and stroke.
However, all antiplatelets currently available carry an increased risk of bleeding, according to David J. Scott, RPh, PharmD, MBA, a clinical staff pharmacist at Scott Pharmacy in Fayette, IA. That means if patients need surgery while taking these drugs, they have a greater risk of serious complications due to blood loss.
"Antiplatelet medications currently available put patients at risk for unusual bleeding or bruising, pain and general discomfort," Dr. Scott told RxWiki News. "These medications tend to irreversibly, and completely, affect platelet function for the life span of the platelets (eight to nine days) and do not have reversal agents. If patients experience major bleeding complications on these medications, hospitals may need to administer blood or fresh frozen plasma transfusions to control the bleeding."
PZ-128 is a new type of drug called a pepducin. These drugs are unique because they act quickly to prevent blood clots from forming during surgery and their effects are reversible, reducing the risk of bleeding. Researchers said this study is the first to demonstrate the potential benefits of pepducins in humans.
For this study, a team of researchers led by Athan Kuliopulos, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research at Tufts University, gave the new drug to 31 patients ages 43 to 74.
More than one-fifth of these patients had coronary artery disease. The rest were at risk due to factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or smoking.
Researchers found that the more PZ-128 patients received, the better the medicine prevented blood cells from clumping together. At the highest dose, PZ-128 prevented between 80 and 100 percent of blood clots from forming.
The effects of PZ-128 were also quickly reversed, with the drug completely clearing from patients' blood in as little as 24 hours.
Although these results are promising, researchers cautioned that this is a phase I study and much more research is still needed. Dr. Kuliopulos said his team is currently planning a phase II study on 600 patients undergoing angioplasty or with acute blood flow blockages to the heart.
This study was published Dec. 17 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded this research. Several study authors disclosed ties to pharmaceutical companies.