• Press Release

Unique Study Shows Efficacy of Imaging Technology in Evaluating Heart Disease Drug Dalcetrapib

Zahi A. Fayad, PhD, Director of the Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute, found

  • New York
  • (September 13, 2011)

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have for the first time used several imaging techniques to prove the efficacy of a promising new treatment for atherosclerosis—the build-up of plaque in artery walls that can lead to a heart attack. Using positron-emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the research team showed that dalcetrapib, a novel treatment for atherosclerosis, prevented the progression of disease and reduced vascular inflammation over 24 months. The data are published in the September 12 issue of The Lancet.

The dal-PLAQUE study is the longest placebo-controlled, active-drug MRI study to date, and the first to use a variety of noninvasive imaging techniques to visualize arterial plaque. In this Phase IIB, double-blind, multicenter trial, Mount Sinai researchers evaluated 130 study participants with atherosclerosis who were randomized to receive dalcetrapib or placebo for 24 months. To determine the efficacy of dalcetrapib, the team used MRI to analyze plaque progression in the arterial wall and PET/CT to assess arterial inflammation. The images showed that dalcetrapib significantly reduced atherosclerotic disease progression and inflammation.

"This milestone study shows that MRI and PET/CT are highly useful in assessing the safety and efficacy of dalcetrapib, and that this novel therapy may address a significantly unmet need in cardiovascular disease," said Zahi A. Fayad, PhD, Professor of Radiology and Medicine in the Division of Cardiology, and the Director of the Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and lead author on the study. "We are excited about the results obtained in this trial, which could have a great impact on the treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease."

Lowering of the so-called bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) through statin use, is a highly effective method of improving cardiovascular outcome in a broad range of patients. However, despite optimal use, significant risk remains. Dalcetrapib is part of a class of drugs called cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors that raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) commonly known as "good" cholesterol. Research has shown that raising HDL cholesterol may reduce coronary artery disease risk. In the dal-PLAQUE study, patients who received dalcetrapib saw a 31 percent increase in HDL cholesterol levels, as examined through MRI. The PET/CT scans showed that inflammation levels in the carotid artery of patients taking dalcetrapib were significantly reduced, yet stayed the same in the placebo group.

"Considering the concerns surrounding this class of drugs, MRI and PET/CT imaging are valuable biomarkers for assessing safety and efficacy," said Dr. Fayad. "The first drug in this class, torcetrapib, effectively increased HDL cholesterol but caused a significant increase in mortality due to vascular inflammation. Through noninvasive imaging, we were able to determine that the inflammation associated with torcetrapib was not found in dalcetrapib. The success of this trial indicates that noninvasive imaging may be a critical tool for evaluating other investigational treatments for heart disease as well."

As a leader in cardiovascular medicine and imaging, Mount Sinai is establishing a center that will use state of the art imaging technology to help treat and prevent atherosclerosis, heart attack, and heart failure.  In collaboration with the Mount Sinai Cardiovascular Institute and Mount Sinai Heart, the new Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute will continue to innovate, validate and translate new tools for the improvements of patients care.

"Cardiovascular disease impacts millions of people, and costs billions of dollars each year in the United States alone," said Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart, the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute and the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Center for Cardiovascular Health at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "As demonstrated in the dal-PLAQUE study, Dr. Fayad has brought Mount Sinai to the forefront of using noninvasive imaging to help study, prevent, and treat heart disease. We look forward to using MRI and PET/CT in future clinical trials."

The centers that participated in the dal-PLAQUE trial include: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Cardiovascular Imaging Technologies, Kansas; University of Minnesota; The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York; University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle;  Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research; Iredell Internal Medicine; Sterling Research Group; Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center, Cincinnati; William Beaumont Hospital Health Center; Montreal Heart Institute.

Dr. Fayad receives financial compensation as a scientific advisory board member for F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd, the sponsor of this study.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. 

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Of the top 20 hospitals in the United States, Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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