Scientists last night said the discovery ushered in “a new era of therapeutics”. Stock image

A new wonder drug that could prevent thousands of heart attacks and cancer fatalities has been hailed as the biggest breakthrough since statins.

Scientists said the revolutionary discovery ushered in “a new era of therapeutics” that worked in an entirely different way to conventional treatment.

As well as cutting the risk of a heart attack by a quarter, canakinumab halved the chance of dying from cancer and protected against gout and arthritis.

Professor Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School, presenting his findings at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona yesterday, said the drugs opened up a “third front” in the war on heart disease.

The landmark study tracked 10,000 heart attack victims who got the drug over four years. Those given the drug had a 24pc reduction in heart attacks and a 17pc fall in angina.