Commenting on the results at a news conference, Dr. Miguel Quinones, chair of cardiology at Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, said the study showed a "striking" short-term benefit for patients, but it's unclear if it would be sustained over time. Use of Inspra could be "a game-changer if we could demonstrate three to five years later that we have significantly improved outcomes," he said.
A third and smaller trial, published simultaneously online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, looked at another still-unapproved drug, the anti-inflammatory agent inclacumab, for use in patients undergoing angioplasty.
The ACC noted that more than 1 million Americans each year undergo angioplasty. But angioplasty can also trigger damage to heart tissues, and it was thought that the new drug might help minimize that risk.
In the study, which involved 322 patients with a common form of heart attack, participants got either various doses of inclacumab or a placebo about an hour before their angioplasty.
The research team assessed changes in levels of troponin I -- a protein found in the blood that indicates heart damage -- as a means of telling whether the drug was effective or not.
The researchers reported that 24 hours after the procedure, patients who had gotten the highest dose of inclacumab saw their troponin I levels drop by more than 24 percent compared to those on a placebo -- indicating less heart tissue damage. Levels of another marker of heart tissue damage, called CK-MB, fell by more than 17 percent over 24 hours compared to placebo, the team added.
There was also "no bad signal [from the data] in terms of increased rates of bleeding or infection" with the use of inclacumab, study author Dr. Jean Claude Tardif, director of the Research Center at the Montreal Heart Institute, told reporters.
One expert agreed, but said more study is needed. "This looks to be very promising, [and] I hope we get to see this continuing in larger trials," Dr. Neal Kleiman, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, said at the press briefing.
Tardif said that such a trial is being planned. The current study was funded by the drug's developer, Hoffman-La Roche Ltd.
Findings from studies that have only been presented at medical meetings, such as the Inspra trial, are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Find out more about drugs that work to fight heart failure at the American Heart Association.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.