in the pipeline

A promising antibody drug in the pipeline – normally used to prevent blood clots during non-surgical procedures for narrowing arteries – is now tested in stroke patients.


The drug pipeline is a term used to describe pharmaceutical drugs that are currently under discovery or development. Although these drugs are not yet approved for sale in the pharmaceutical market, they are often viewed as the potential future of medical treatment. One such antibody drug, Abciximab, has normally been used in the hospital setting to prevent blood clotting during percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

PCI is a non-surgical procedure that places a stent within one of the heart’s blood vessels in order to open expand the vessel and reverse the plaque-accumulating effects of atherosclerosis. Abciximab acts as a blood thinner during these procedures and decreases the risk restricted blood supply to different tissues in the body. It works by inhibiting the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa, receptor, a receptor found on the surface of platelets (cells responsible for blood clotting). In addition, Abciximab lowers the chance that another PCI will be needed within the first month following the initial procedure. Abciximab has also been shown to be effective in some patients with diabetes or chronic renal failure.

Although Abciximab is commonly used for short periods in operative settings, its use in patients with other conditions is being tested. In a phase 2 study, Abciximab is now being investigated for its ability to restore blood flow in patients who have experienced a stroke. In a study sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), researchers are comparing the effectiveness and safety of Abciximab in comparison to reteplase (another blood thinner) for restoring normal brain blood flow. Patients in the study will receive either Abciximab or reteplase between 3 to 24 hours from the time a stroke occurs.

The primary outcome measures for this study will be patient response to the drugs (measured by reperfusion, the restoration of blood flow) and drug toxicity (measured by the occurrence rate of bleeding within the skull, systemic bleeding, of death). Researchers hope that this study can be used to provide evidence that Abciximab is effective for stroke treatment. Currently, there is only one drug approved by the FDA to treat ischemic stroke, rt-PA, and this treatment is only effective if it is initiated within the first 3 hours of stroke onset. Unfortunately, many patients are not able to reach a hospital within this window of time to being rt-PA treatment and benefit from its clot-busting effects.

Abciximab is still being studied for its effects in different diseases, and its methods of action in stroke treatment are under analysis. Whether this pipeline drug will prove effective and safe for market sale is still to be determined.


Written By: Alexandra Lostun, BSc (Hons)

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