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Early Data Show Potential for Imatinib Mesylate Tablets to Treat Life-Threatening Form of Pulmonary Artery Disease
Date:10/8/2008

bilitating disease that is characterized by a marked and sustained elevation in pulmonary artery pressure(1). The disease is rapidly progressive and can result in heart failure and death(1). There is no known cure for PAH and the goal of current treatments is to control symptoms of the disease(2). The prognosis for many PAH patients is similar to that of some advanced cancers, and with current treatment options, the five-year survival rate is 50%(3).

Imatinib mesylate is an orally administered targeted therapy that has successfully treated many patients with certain rare cancers. It works by inhibiting the activity of several proteins called tyrosine kinases, such as Bcr-Abl, c-KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), which is also thought to be involved in the progression of PAH(3). In patients with PAH, PDGFR may cause smooth muscle cells in the pulmonary arteries to multiply, resulting in the constriction of these arteries(4).

Plans for research to further explore the potential of imatinib mesylate in PAH are ongoing and will be announced at a later date.

The double blind, placebo-controlled trial presented at ERS enrolled 59 patients with PAH to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of imatinib mesylate 400 mg. The study participants had previously failed to improve after receiving standard therapy with prostanoids, endothelin antagonists or PDE-5 inhibitors.

"There is a high unmet need for new treatments that address the underlying mechanisms of PAH," said David Epstein, President and CEO of Novartis Oncology. "These early findings support exploring the potential of imatinib mesylate in PAH in a larger randomized clinical trial."

1. It is estimated that approximately 130,000 to 260,000 people worldwide

have PAH(5). The mean age at diagnosis is 35 years, and most patients

present with moderate-to-severe disease. PAH occurs most often in

otherwise healthy people, and more often i
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SOURCE Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
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