Switzerland-based Novartis’s experimental acute heart failure (AHF) drug serelaxin (RLX030) has proved effective in clinical trials across a range of patient groups.
The results, which were published in the European Heart Journal and presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress in Amsterdam, indicated that the serelaxin steadily improved symptoms and mortality across multiple subgroups of patients with AHF.
The medication is a type of human hormone that relaxes blood vessels and eases stress on the heart and other organs.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals division head David Epstein said: "Treatment of AHF is largely unchanged since the 1970s and with RLX030 Novartis aims to bring the first therapy shown to improve longer-term outcomes to patients.
"This new analysis adds to the overall results from RELAX-AHF that showed intervention with RLX030 is key to halting the downward spiral of organ damage that occurs during an AHF episode."
The treatment caused a 37% reduction of mortality rates at six months, including in elderly patients 75 years or older, as well as individuals with renal impairment and atrial fibrillation.
Trials also revealed that serelaxin improved breathlessness (dyspnea) in patients.
While serelaxin succeded in meeting one of the study’s two primary goals by decreasing deaths and alleviating dyspnea, Novartis admitted the drug did not achieve its secondary objective of decreasing cardiovascular death and reducing the need for patients to continuously return to hospital.
Researchers have concluded that the life-saving benefit is the most important element of the drug, but would still like to see more evidence of its performance.
Image: Novartis’s headquarters in Basel. Photo: courtesy of CC BY 2.0.