According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, over the past few years cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes have started to affect much younger people. Source: Alamy / Legion Media
Scientists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk have created an innovative new medication, Trombovazim, based on research conducted for the Soviet military. Blood clots that result in cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction are dissolved by the drug. According to its sponsors, Trombovazim is unique in terms of how it works.
According to estimates from the Russian Ministry of Health, over the past 10 years the total incidence of acute myocardial infarction – and, as a consequence, disability and mortality – in Russia has declined. However, the level of reoccurrence over the same period has increased. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, over the past few years cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes have started to affect much younger people. One in 10 people aged 20 to 39 suffer from high blood pressure, whereas these ailments only recently rarely affected those younger than 40.
Andrei Bekarev, chairman of the board of directors at Biotechnopark in Koltsovo, a research settlement near Novosibirsk, told RBTH that Trombovazim was the first drug of a new class of thrombolytic medicines for the treatment and prevention of myocardial infarction, stroke, pulmonary embolism and thrombophlebitis.
Trombovazim is made from plants and then treated with an electron beam accelerator. During this process a connection takes place in the form of a "cross-linking" of polymers with biomolecules. According to Bekarev, the body does not perceive the drug as foreign, so there is no immune response.
"Normally when artificial proteins are administered to the body, rejection and even various allergic reactions may occur that lead right up to anaphylactic shock and death,” says Bekarev. “But in the case of our drug, under the influence of ionizing radiation the chemical bonds are broken on the polymer and form a sort of ‘coat’ around proteins. In other words, the properties of proteins do not change, and the body does not reject the drug.”
Scientists around the world have spent about 40 years of research on joining fragments of polymer with various components using electron-beam synthesis.
In the 1980s scientists in Novosibirsk, under the leadership of Rudolf Salganik, created Imozimaza to treat open wounds and stop bleeding. This research was funded by the Soviet military and became a prototype of the future Trombovazima.
“The drug performed well during the war in Afghanistan,” says Bekarev. “But they did not have time to complete it before the end of the war and so it proved to be difficult to use and inconvenient to store since it was affected by temperatures above 6-8 degrees Celsius.”
In the 1990s after the Soviet collapse, many research and development projects were abandoned, including Imozimaza. Bekarev said that the medication never reached the stage for release as a high-grade drug, but it is still used in veterinary medicine.
In the 2000s, the economic situation in Russia changed somewhat and the scientists had an opportunity to revive their project and they decided to modify this “Afghan” drug.
Unlike Imozimaza, Trombovazim is stable, and toxicity has been reduced. Moreover, according to Bekarev, it’s the only antithrombotic agent used orally. “There are alternatives, but they do not directly affect the clot," says Bekarev. The drug has passed all pre-clinical and clinical studies and is being manufactured in Koltsovo in the form of tablets and a solution for injection. For the creation of the development of the drug, the team received the Novosibirsk Region State Prize.
However, even such drugs as Trombovazim can’t be a panacea for curing cardiovascular diseases, says cardiologist Alexandra Bessonova. “Harmful habits such as alcohol, smoking, high-calorie food and a couch-potato lifestyle are the main reasons for heart attacks in Russia,” Bessonova says. “The myocardial infraction death rate in the country is almost 25 percent. After thrombolytic therapy patients have to change their lifestyle to avoid recurrent heart attacks.”
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