A simple diagnostic test developed at Oxford University, and launched today by Massachusetts-based Boston Heart Diagnostics, will identify those at increased risk of rare but serious side effects from taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Isis Innovation, the University's technology commercialisation company, granted Boston Heart Diagnostics an exclusive US license to the test in 2011. The test is now available for license in non-US territories, including the UK.
Researchers at Oxford University's Clinical Trial Service Unit, led by Professor Rory Collins, identified the genetic biomarker SLCO1B1, which is an effective identifier of patients at increased risk of myopathy – the onset of muscle aches, pains and weakness associated with statin therapy. This condition can be extremely unpleasant and occasionally becomes very serious.
'Lowering cholesterol with statin therapy results in a substantial reduction in heart attacks, stroke and cardiovascular mortality and larger reductions in cholesterol produce larger benefits,' said Professor Collins. 'In rare cases, myopathy occurs in association with statin therapy, especially when the statins are given at higher doses and with certain other medications. Knowledge of the SLCO1B1 marker may help to achieve the benefits of statin therapy more safely and effectively.'
Boston Heart Diagnostics has now launched the Statin Induced Myopathy (SLCO1B1) Genotype test. The test classifies individuals into high risk or low risk genotypes based on the presence or absence of the SLCO1B1 biomarker.
'Of course there are any number of reasons that people ignore their healthcare provider's advice, but statin-induced myopathy can be extremely unpleasant and, for a small percentage, completely debilitating – leading many to forego taking the potentially life-saving drug,' said Boston Heart Diagnostics President and CEO Susan Hertzberg.
'We are delighted to assist in bringing this important new test to the US market through an exclusive arrangement with Boston Heart Diagnostics,' said Tom Hockaday, Managing Director of Isis Innovation. 'The test has the potential to allow physicians worldwide to assist patients to choose the best and safest treatment option for their particular case.'