A group of scientists led by Stanford University’s Dr. James Spudich, working together with researchers from the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Washington and the Institut Curie in Paris, has recently been awarded a $10 million grant by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to develop novel treatments for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
The researchers hope that the added resources from this grant will help them find ways to correct pathological heart protein changes they believe to be at the root of HCM. The team then plans to partner with pharmaceutical companies to develop more personalized approaches to HCM treatment.
Dr. Spudich has long been involved in HCM research and has been a founder of two separate companies which are currently engaged in drug trials for potential HCM treatments: MyoKardia and Cytokinetics.
A story about Dr. Spudich and the inspiration for his work was featured in this recent post on HCMBeat.
According to a limited study recently published in Nature, researchers were able to detect obstructive HCM (HOCM) using a noninvasive optical sensor contained in many commercial smartwatches.
How the Technology Works
These watches used photoplethysmography, a noninvasive optical method used to detect blood volume changes in the microvascular bed at the skin surface. The same technology is used in clinical pulse oximeters and is now widely incorporated in commercial smartwatches that have heart rate detection.
For this limited study which was included as an adjunct to MyoKardia’s Phase 2 PIONEER-HCM study of the the drug mavacamten (formerly known as MYK-461), 5 HCM centers in the US obtained smart watch data and echocardiograms from 19 HCM patients who had left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. The researchers compared these readings to readings from a control group of 64 healthy volunteers. The researchers were able to identify significant differences between the heartbeats of those patients with HOCM and those of the healthy volunteers.
Potential for Widespread Use
Before this technology can be put into widespread use, more research is needed to support this limited sample. However, in the future, this technology could potentially prove to be an easy and inexpensive way to screen people for obstructive HCM.
DISCLOSURES: HCMBEAT HAS RECEIVED UNRESTRICTED EDUCATIONAL GRANTS FROM MYOKARDIA. ADDITIONALLY, CYNTHIA BURSTEIN WALDMAN OF HCMBEAT SERVES AS A PATIENT ADVISOR ON THE STEERING COMMITTEE FOR MYOKARDIA’S EXPLORER TRIAL.
When Stanford biochemist Jim Spudich settled down in bed with a book recommended by his wife, he had no idea that the book would inspire one of the biggest discoveries of his career. Spudich drifted off to sleep while reading The Haunted Mesa, a science fiction novel by Louis L’Amour. His scientific discovery was based on an image he saw in his dreams when the image of a mesa morphed into a myosin molecule.
Continue reading “How a Louis L’Amour Book about the Southwest Inspired a HCM Discovery”
MyoKardia is collaborating with 23andMe, a genetic testing company which provides ancestry and health information directly to consumers, to create an online patient community intended to advance research efforts related to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The companies plan to allow 23andMe customers access to the latest information about HCM, as well as the opportunity to participate in research.
The companies will use a custom designed survey to collect baseline and follow-up data from HCM patients. They are hopeful that this collaboration will yield unique insights into HCM.
Research findings gained through the collaboration will be shared with HCM patients through the 23andMe platform. Currently more than 6,000 HCM patients are customers of 23andMe
More details of the collaboration can be found:
Press release from MyoKardia and 23andMe
DISCLOSURES: HCMBeat has received unrestricted educational grants from MyoKardia. Additionally, Cynthia Burstein Waldman of HCMBeat serves as a Patient Advisor on the Steering Committee for MyoKardia’s Explorer trial.
According to this press release, MyoKardia expects to dose the first patient in the EXPLORER-HCM trial of mavacamten (formerly known as MYK-461) for obstructive HCM in the second quarter of 2018.
MyoKardia says that it expects 220 patients to enroll in the 30 week long trial. These patients will be randomly assigned to receive either mavacamten or a placebo. Participants will also be able to continue on their normal beta blockers or calcium channel blockers.
MyoKardia, a San Francisco biotech company currently in clinical trials on a HCM drug called Mavacamten, has come up with a way to spot HOCM simply by using a wristband fitness monitor. The wristband works through the use of optical biosensors which monitor arterial pulse waves.
During MyoKardia’s trials, the bracelet biosensors were used on HOCM patients and non-affected controls. The algorithm was able to distinguish HOCM patients from unaffected individuals more than 95% of the time, suggesting that a non-invasive way to screen for HOCM may not be too far in the future.
The linked article at Medgadget contains an interview with MyoKardia’s Dr. Robert McDowell, MyoKardia’s Chief Scientific Officer, and Dr. Eric Green, MyoKardia’s Senior Director of Translational Research with more on the happenings at MyoKardia.
A few months ago, HCMBeat featured this post about HCM Care, a new educational website and downloadable app for HCM patients and their families, featuring essential information for patients trying to understand their HCM diagnosis, explained in written and video formats. HCM Care also provides useful information about genetic testing and family screening for their family members.
Dr. Andrew Wang of Duke University’s HCM Clinic in Durham, N.C., developed HCM Care along with 8 other HCM specialists from 6 hospitals, including Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Tufts Medical Center. Funding and support for the project were provided by MyoKardia, a San Francisco biotech company engaged in the development of a precision medicine approach to the treatment of genetic cardiomyopathies. Their HCM medication, MYK-461, is currently in clinical trials in the U.S.
Cynthia Burstein Waldman of HCM Beat had the opportunity via email to talk with Dr. Wang about his HCM practice and his involvement with the development of HCM Care. What follows is their written correspondence, edited for clarity:
Continue reading “A Conversation with Duke’s Dr. Andrew Wang – Creator of the HCM Care App”