Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly’s experimental vaccine-like drug slashed a risk factor for heart disease by a whopping 94% for almost a year, according to a report.
Findings from the phase 1 trial with Eli Lilly’s lepodisiran drug found that the highest dose reduced a heart disease-linked protein — which functions similarly to LDL, known as “bad cholesterol” — to undetectable levels for 48 weeks, Bloomberg reported.
Within the first two weeks, that protein — Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a) — was reduced by the top dose of lepodisiran by as much as 96%, the first-in-human study showed.
The trial participants then maintained levels more than 94% below the baseline for the following 48 weeks.
The stunning results from lepodisiran, which is administered as an annual shot similar to a once-a-year flu vaccine, raises hope for people whose genetic makeup puts them at high risk for heart disease, Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steve Nissen, who led the study, told Bloomberg.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization list heart disease as the leading cause of death in the US in 2022, topping cancer and COVID. Last year, nearly 700,000 Americans died of heart disease, compared to 607,790 who died from cancer, CDC figures showed. COVID was listed as the underlying cause for 186,702.
“This approach to treatment gives hope to the 20% of the world’s population who have elevated Lp(a) levels,” Nissen said in the initial press release on his findings.
“These data are exciting because we are seeing a revolution in drug development with the ability to target products of specific genes with gene editing. We’re excited by these results and looking forward to further development of this therapy,” a spokesperson for Eli Lilly told The Post.
The trial included 48 patients from the US and Singapore, with an average age of 47, the press release said.
Their reactions to the experimental drug were studied along with six different dosages and a placebo, which were all administered as injections. Participants were monitored for up to 48 weeks after administration.
It’s unclear how patients were chosen for this trial, which is currently in phase 2.
When asked when lepodisiran could potentially become publicly available, an Eli Lilly spokesperson told The Post: “A larger phase 2 trial sponsored by Lilly is currently underway, studying lepodisiran in adults with both high levels of Lp(a) and a high risk of early heart attack or stroke. We are continuing to evaluate the results of these phase 2 trials and will share additional analyses at future medical meetings.”
“We will continue to follow the science, analyzing data from both phase 2 studies to make decisions around continued development.”
Shares of Eli Lilly closed up 2.5% on Monday, at $612.71.
Nissen’s findings after the Lilly-sponsored trial were presented Sunday at an American Heart Association in Philadelphia, and also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, according to Bloomberg.
At the same meeting, Ozempic-maker Novo Nordisk revealed a study that showed heart benefits from patients taking its diabetes-turned-weight-loss drug Wegovy.
The pivotal study, which was also conducted at the Cleveland Clinic, concluded that Wegovy can reduce the risk of severe heart problems by 20%, paving the way for applications far beyond weight loss.
The research, paid for by Wegovy and Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk, enrolled over 17,600 people from 41 countries.
Patients were 45 years or older and had a preexisting cardiovascular disease and a body-mass index of 27 or greater — but no history of diabetes.
Half the patients got weekly injections of Wegovy or a placebo shot — with participants tracked for more than three years on average.
Some 69.5%, or 569, of those who received the drug experienced a heart attack or stroke or died from a heart-related cause, compared with 701, or 8%, of those who had the dummy shot.
The participants on Wegovy lost around 10% of their weight on average and kept those pounds off throughout the trial.