OU Public Health Dean Is Senior Author for Global Study of New Drug to Prevent Blood Clots
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY — Blood clots are a major concern for people facing various health situations, including surgery, hospitalization and cancer. While current medications lower the risk of clots, they increase the chance of bleeding complications, to an extent that some people cannot take them. However, a new option may be on the horizon — a research study published today in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine shows promise for a new oral medication that is effective for preventing clots without increasing bleeding.
Gary Raskob, Ph.D., Dean of the Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, is senior author of the publication and chair of the steering committee for the study. The study tested the drug Milvexian in patients undergoing knee replacement surgery, who have a high risk of developing clots in the deep veins of their legs. More than 1,200 patients undergoing surgery at 118 health centers in 18 countries participated in the trial. Results showed that a daily dose of 100 milligrams or more of Milvexian was more effective for preventing clots than the current standard of treatment and, importantly, it had a low risk of bleeding.
“We are encouraged by these initial results with this new oral anticoagulant that works differently from existing medications,” Raskob said. “We may finally be able to realize the longstanding goal of separating the benefit of anticoagulant medication for preventing clots from its side effect of increasing bleeding complications.”
There is an enormous need for drugs to prevent clots — two of the top 10 drugs sold across the world are anti-clotting medications, Raskob said. Blood clots can cause serious illness and disability. As the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes, and of clots in the legs that move to the lungs, they are responsible for about 1 in 4 deaths worldwide. Blood clots in the lungs, known as pulmonary embolism, are fatal for about 100,000 people each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Because so many people require the medications to reduce the risk of clots, researchers are devoting significant time and resources to developing new therapies that are effective and improve patient safety.
Researchers chose the drug Milvexian to study because of the way it reacts with a protein in the blood called Factor XI. People who have a genetic deficiency of Factor XI (a condition known as hemophilia C) have a lower chance of developing clots later in life, and they don’t have spontaneous bleeding complications compared to people with other types of hemophilia. This suggested to researchers that if Factor XI could be reduced in at-risk patients, clots could be prevented without bleeding complications. Milvexian works by binding to Factor XI and inhibiting it, which reduces the risk of clot development.
Although researchers studied Milvexian in patients undergoing knee replacement surgery for this clinical trial, future trials will focus on other types of patients who require anti-clotting medication. “A few examples include people with atrial fibrillation who are at risk of a stroke, people with cancer-associated thrombosis who have a high risk of bleeding, and people who’ve had a stroke and need treatment to prevent a second stroke,” Raskob said.
Most of Raskob’s research career has been devoted to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of blood clots, formally called deep-vein thrombosis, as well as pulmonary embolism, a blockage that occurs when part of a clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs. In July, he was an author for another publication in the New England Journal of Medicine about abelacimab, a monoclonal antibody injected under the skin, which also targets Factor XI for the prevention of clots.
Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, in partnership with OU Health, is the only accredited college of public health in the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1967, Hudson College of Public Health is ranked sixth in Top 10 Colleges for Public Health Degrees nationwide by College Magazine. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center serves approximately 4,000 students in more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs on campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. As Oklahoma’s flagship comprehensive, academic health system, we’ve been steadfast in our commitment to education, research and patient care. For more information: https://publichealth.ouhsc.edu
OU Health is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Health is home to Oklahoma’s largest doctor network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Health serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. OU Health’s oncology program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center was named Oklahoma’s top facility for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 rankings. OU Health also was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in these specialties: Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Health’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit ouhealth.com.