Researchers from Duke University Medical Center are using Siemens Medical Solutions' Acuson Cypress cardiovascular ultrasound system to study the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs in the prevention of premature atherosclerosis in pediatric patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus).
The multi-center study is designed to test the safety and efficacy of atorvastatin in reducing the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can cause heart disease including heart attack and stroke, according to Siemens. The compact echocardiography system is being used in the trial to measure and monitor the progression of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in the patients as an indicator of Atherosclerotic disease.
Called the Atherosclerosis Prevention in Pediatric Lupus Erythematosus (APPLE) trial, the study will include 280 pediatric lupus patients at 20 sites throughout the United States and Canada, and is coordinated by the Duke Clinical Research Institute. The trial is led by Laura Schanberg, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Duke, and Christy Sandborg, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine.
The APPLE trial is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS), a division of the NIH. The study is randomized, so half of the participants will receive atorvastatin, hydroxychloroquine (a treatment commonly used for lupus patients), low dose aspirin, folate and dietary counseling, in addition to their standard lupus treatments. The other half will receive a placebo in place of the atorvastatin, but will be given the other medications and counseling in addition to their standard treatment.