Reports presented last week at a Dallas cardiology meetingshowed that both Genentech Inc.'s and SmithKline Beecham'sclot-dissolving agents significantly improve survival if givenearly.

The European and Canadian trial of SmithKline Beecham'sEminase APSAC, which enrolled 5,454 patients, was the largeststudy of patients treated within two hours of onset of heartattack symptoms. The trial found a 17 percent reduction inmortality, as reported at the American College of Cardiologymeeting.

The study of Genentech's Activase t-PA, presented Tuesday,also found a significant 10 percent reduction in mortality in360 patients enrolled. Patients treated within one to two hoursof symptom onset had a significant reduction -- 50 percent --in the amount of heart muscle damaged. Forty percent ofpatients were treated early enough to prevent any trace ofdamage from the heart attack.

Both studies included delivery of the thrombolytic agent beforeadmission to hospital. Europeans fielded a mobile coronary careunit headed by a physician, while the American study hadparamedic teams relay electrocardiogram output to hospitals,where the data was judged by a physician who orderedappropriate treatment. Treatment alternatively was given inthe hospital emergency rooms.

Control groups in both studies were treated after admission. --Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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