Important research findings, therapy advances, and other events related to pulmonary hypertension were reported daily in Pulmonary Hypertension News during 2017.
Now that the year is over, it’s time to briefly review the articles that appealed most to our readers. Here are the Top 10 most-read articles of 2017, with a brief description of what made them interesting and relevant to PH patients, family members, and caregivers.
Eiger BioPharmaceuticals announced that the first patient had completed the 24-week Phase 2 LIBERTY clinical trial (NCT02664558) of ubenimex as a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, PAH. The patient opted to continue the treatment in an extension trial. Ubenimex inhibits leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H), an enzyme whose levels are elevated in PAH patients, promoting inflammation. The research team conducting the trial wanted to see if the treatment reduces resistance in lung blood vessels, improves patients’ ability to exercise, and alleviates their shortness of breath.
Sixty pulmonary hypertension patients received a Medtronic intravenous therapy-delivery system in a clinical trial (NCT01321073). The system, which includes pumps and catheters, delivers United Therapeutics’ Remodulin (treprostinil), which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved as a treatment for PH. Remodulin widens arteries, improving the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the lungs, and inhibits blood platelet clumping and clotting. The system is easier to use than other therapy-delivery methods, and has the potential to reduce infections and complications, Medtronic said. Patients tolerated the implants well, it said.
Pulmonary hypertension survival rates vary with the cause of the disease, researchers at Germany’s University Hospital Giessen reported. Patients with PH stemming from a lung disease and those with pulmonary venous hypertension had worse survival rates than patients with PAH. The team also said that patients under 50 years of age, women, and those able to walk more than 390 meters in six minutes are likelier to live longer.
A rare group of stem cells may be able to repair the lungs of people with pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory conditions, a study reports. The research involved 59 participants, including 13 with PH and 26 with COPD. Researchers discovered that the body can recruit very small embryonic-like stem cells from bone marrow to fight PH and COPD.
MannKind Corporation, which is developing the PAH treatment Treprostinil Technosphere, hired the biopharmaceutical financing specialist Locust Walk to raise capital for Treprostinil and other projects. MannKind plans to use Technosphere to develop treatments for other respiratory diseases as well, and for anaphylactic shock, pain and nausea. Treprostinil is a synthetic form of prostacyclin, an artery-widening therapy used to treat PAH. Technosphere can be delivered without a needle, acts quickly and has no effect on the liver.
Regulatory delays prompted United Therapeutics and Medtronic to postpone the U.S. roll-out of Remodulin for PAH patients until 2018. The companies collaborated on the development of Medtronic’s new IV system for delivering Remodulin, a United Therapeutics product. The two pursued parallel filings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, United Therapeutics for the drug and Medtronic for the device. Remodulin is designed to prevent PAH from worsening and to improve symptoms associated with exercise. It proved effective in clinical trials of diverse PAH patient populations.
A study on how doctors can use echocardiograms to predict poor PAH outcomes showed that high blood pressure in the right artery makes a person with the disease almost 2 1/2 times more likely to die than a patient with lower pressure. Other factors predicting a poor outcome are a leaking tricuspid heart valve and accumulation of fluids around the heart, researchers said. The main conclusion of the study was that some electrocardiogram measurements can help doctors identify patients at high risk of a poor PAH outcome. Since PAH is a life-threatening disease, this new tool is extremely valuable, researchers said.
A patch that delivers SteadyMed’s PAH treatment Trevyent (treprostinil) is effective and safe, according to a study involving 60 healthy volunteers. Treprostinil is an artery-widening therapy known as a vasodilatory prostacyclin analogue. Prostacyclin, a protein that helps prevents arteries from constricting, is at low levels in some patients with severe PAH. By widening arteries, the therapy increases blood flow to the lungs. It also has anti-clotting properties. SteadyMed’s infusion system consists of a pump filled with treprostinil that is programmed for a correct delivery rate. The system also lets patients know that delivery has been successful.
Bayer and Merck presented the results of five clinical trials showing that its artery-widening therapy Adempas (riociguat) improved PAH patients’ heart function and quality of life and offered other benefits. The trials also covered Adempas as a treatment for chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. The five studies, which the companies presented at a conference in Miami, included four clinical trials and an extension trial. The Phase 3 RESPITE trial (NCT02007629) showed that Adempas improved the heart function of patients who had failed to respond to phosphodiesterase-5 blocking drugs.
The number 1 pulmonary hypertension story of 2017 was about an awareness campaign from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association that featured singer Traci Braxton. The campaign ads were in print, online, and on radio and television. Two of the singer’s sisters have PH-linked diseases. Toni Braxton, a Grammy Award winner, has lupus, which leads to PH in 9 percent of patients. Tamar Braxton-Herbert has chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. The idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of PH so more people with it are diagnosed early. The campaign is an extension of the Heart2CurePH multimedia campaign, which kicked off in November 2015.
Pulmonary Hypertension News hopes that these developments, and new reports coming your way throughout 2018, will ultimately contribute to educate, inform, and improve the lives of patients living with PH.
We wish all our readers a happy and inspiring 2018.