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Patient drug trial to improve recovery from heart attack

Researchers at Addenbrooke's are trialling a cancer drug which could improve the recovery of heart attack patients like Julian Hough.

The study, led by researchers at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), is exploring whether a low dose of the cancer drug, aldesleukin, increases the activation of immune cells shown to protect the heart.

Julian Hough
Julian Hough, a patient taking part in the drug trial

Having a heart attack stopped everything and put my life on hold

Julian Hough, CUH cardiology patient

Julian had a heart attack in July despite an active and healthy lifestyle. He's on the road to recovery and wanted to take part in research. He said:

"This trial is important because if this drug works, which is the results the doctors expect, it's going to benefit so many people.

"For me personally it's helped me get my confidence back. I can see the results of scans and blood tests at each stage of the trial as the weeks go by. I can see how things are progressing as I start to get back to normal life."

In the UK, someone is admitted to hospital every five minutes due to a heart attack, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

While seven out of ten people will survive a heart attack, many are left with damaged hearts.

Dr Rouchelle Sriranjan
Dr Rouchelle Sriranjan, honorary cardiology registrar CUH

We hope this drug will reduce a person’s chances of having a second heart attack

Dr Rouchelle Sriranjan, clinical research associate

Dr Rouchelle Sriranjan is one of the researchers on the trial led by Dr Joseph Cheriyan. She said:

"Some patients who have heart attacks, have an imbalance in the cells of their immune system. These patients are at a higher risk of second heart attacks or strokes and have more damage done to the heart.

"The hope is a low dose of aldesleukin, will re-calibrate the imbalance in the immune system and promote healing of the heart muscle and lower inflammation in the blood vessels."

Findings of a recent study found that aldesleukin activates a rare white blood cell called innate type 2 lymphocyte (ILC2).

ILC2 has previously been shown to decrease the harmful inflammation that promotes the build-up of fatty deposits in arteries.

The trial is been funded through a Medical Research Council and British Heart Foundation grant to Professor Ziad Mallat and supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility.

The latest research findings have been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Information on the British Heart Foundation and it's research: