A GRATEFUL pensioner is enjoying a new lease of life after taking part in a pioneering medical trial.
Michael Brereton of Millers Close, Waverton, was chosen to test a new drug called macitentan, which is used to treat a heart and lung disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
The 67-year-old was one of about 700 people in 40 countries worldwide to participate in the trial – and says he now has bags more energy.
He told the Leader: “Now I don’t get as breathless and seem to have more energy. I need it just to keep up with my five grandchildren!
“My wife has noticed it more than me. I plan to play a lot more golf now but, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have made me play any better!”
Medical experts say that although the condition is very serious and can prove fatal, advances in treatment mean PAH has been downgraded to a ‘long-term, chronic’ illness.
Michael, a former NHS finance director and lifelong Tranmere Rovers fan, was diagnosed in 2008 while being treated for an uncommon skin condition called scleroderma, which often goes hand-in-hand with PAH.
“I started to notice I was getting more and more breathless and had less energy,” he said. “It was tougher getting up stairs. I just put it down to age so it’s lucky I was being looked after and they picked it up early.”
He originally began treatment at the Countess of Chester Hospital before being referred to the Royal Free in London.
The trial began in 2009, and Michael’s drug treatment is likely to continue indefinitely to slow down the progression of his PAH.
There are about 3,000 people living with PAH in England today, with up to 3,000 remaining undiagnosed.
It is a “progressive, severe and life-limiting condition”, caused by the narrowing or tightening of the blood vessels, which connect the right side of the heart to the lungs.
Iain Armstrong, chair of patient organisation Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK, said: “We are encouraged by all research efforts to seek improved therapies and welcome important new advances like macitentan, which has demonstrated significant long-term benefits for patients.”