It is too late for amputee Trevor Jones to benefit from the discovery of a new drug that dissolves plaque in arteries, but he’s as committed as the Marvel characters emblazoned on his prosthetic leg to help save lives.
The drug, Atherid, designed by Nedlands researchers at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research will be the focus of a panel discussion for the community on Monday August 22 at 6pm at the Harry Perkins Institute.
Associate Professor Juliana Hamzah designed the drug while undertaking cancer research on a tumour that develops a mass of blood vessels to deliver nutrients.
She noticed that the drug, which had been designed to normalise blood vessels, also dissolved plaque.
It is the first drug known to reduce plaque in blood vessels. Current approaches treat the causes of plaque build-up, like statins for high cholesterol, or surgery to remove or insert stents into blocked arteries, but none dissolve plaque.
It was a serendipitous discovery that led to her switching from cancer research to cardiovascular disease research.
“Plaque accumulates in our arteries, sometimes causing cardiovascular disease leading to heart attack and stroke, so this drug, if successfully commercialised, has the potential to treat a range of conditions.
“We plan to develop the drug, initially for use by patients like Trevor, who have Peripheral Artery Disease, PAD, which can lead to amputations caused by blockages in blood vessels.
“Choosing to demonstrate the drug’s effectiveness on PAD will be a faster pathway to development than working on heart disease, but at the end of the day, this drug should have wide reaching benefit.”
The panel discussion will involve Associate Professor Hamzah, Professor Shirley Jansen, Head of Vascular Surgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Mr John Barrington AM, Co-founder and Managing Director of Artrya Ltd and Chair of the Harry Perkins Board and Mr Trevor Jones, PAD amputee patient.