B.C. Centres Receive $1.2 million To Study Heart Disease and HIV

Vancouver, November 13, 2007 — Two B.C.-based health research centres are embarking on a $1.2 million national study to examine how to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people living with HIV.
The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (CfE) and the Providence Heart and Lung Institute, both housed at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, part of Providence Health Care, will be investigating how the cholesterol-lowering drug rosuvastatin (Crestor) interacts with essential anti-HIV medications and whether or not it successfully prevents hardening of the arteries. This is the first known study of its kind.

“As a result of the success of HIV treatments in preventing AIDS-related disease and death, HIV-infected persons have longer life expectancies, but they are beginning to see an increase in cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes,” says Dr. Greg Bondy, the study’s principal investigator and a researcher with the CfE. “This is not only an important study for HIV disease – it could also have much broader implications in the general population, particularly for those with metabolic disorders.”

While it is not completely understood why people with HIV are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, a number of factors can be pointed to as the most likely causes. Antiretroviral drugs have been found to cause cholesterol levels to rise and researchers believe that HIV disease itself may put individuals at an increased risk. In addition, a high prevalence of smoking among this specific population is of particular concern.

“New strategies need to be developed to deal with this emerging health issue,” says Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the CfE and president-elect of the International AIDS Society.
“Providence is ideally positioned to contribute given its established excellence in both HIV and cardiopulmonary research and care.

While smaller studies have looked at the arteries of people living with HIV, no study has examined a possible intervention to preventing heart disease among the population. AstraZeneca, maker of rosuvastatin, has donated the $1.2 million to research the efficacy of the drug among this particular group.

“We are proud to support first-class research in the province of British Columbia,” says Mark Jones, president & CEO, AstraZeneca Canada Inc. “This announcement is the latest in a number of investments that AstraZeneca Canada has made in this province. We are committed to funding novel and important research that will help contribute to the overall health of Canadians.”

The study will be conducted with the support of the Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN). HIV-positive individuals who do not have established heart disease and are not currently on cholesterol lowering medication will be eligible to take part.

“Cardiovascular disease is a major health concern for people living with HIV,” says José Sousa, chair of the Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) community advisory committee that reviewed the study proposal and provided important community feedback to the investigators. “We are pleased to see industry stepping up to support investigator-driven research that is in the community’s interest.”

Study details:
• Two-year duration
• 250 participants at sites in B.C., Ontario and Quebec
• Recruitment set first for B.C. in October 2007
• Participants to be treated monthly with either rosuvastatin or placebo
• Participants’ arteries to be examined using carotid artery ultrasound technology, which will indicate any hardening or change in composition of the arteries

For further information on the study, visit http://www.hivnet.ubc.ca/.

For interview requests or further information, contact Bernadette Amiscaray, media relations, 604-561-4640 bernadette.amiscaray@karyo-edelman.com

About the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Founded in 1992 by St. Paul’s Hospital and the provincial Ministry of Health, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is a key provincial resource seeking to improve the health of people with HIV through the development, ongoing monitoring and dissemination of comprehensive investigative and treatment programs for HIV and related diseases. St. Paul’s Hospital is one of seven care facilities operated by Providence Health Care, Canada’s largest faith-based health care organization.

About the Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital
Launched in June 2007, the Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St. Paul's Hospital merges and integrates all of Providence’s heart and lung research, education and care programs under one umbrella. Its mandate is to transform cardiovascular and pulmonary research and care—transferring new care solutions from the laboratory to the clinics and communities to improve the lives of British Columbians.

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a leading global pharmaceutical company with an extensive product portfolio spanning six major therapeutic areas: gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, infection, neuroscience, oncology, and respiratory. AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters and packaging facilities are located in Mississauga, Ontario, and its state-of-the-art drug discovery centre is based in Montreal, Quebec. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.astrazeneca.ca.