Drug for heart disease shows promise for cats (and humans)
Novel drug treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common feline heart disease.
UC Davis veterinary cardiologist Joshua Stern performs an echocardiogram on a cat, assisted by animal health technicians Heather Schrader, right, and Judy Schettler. (Photo: Don Preisler/UC Davis)A new drug shows promise for treating heart disease in both cats and people, according to a team of veterinarians and other researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine.
The drug, MYK-461, proved effective in a study of five cats with a naturally occurring form of inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a currently incurable disease that also affects people, a recent release from UC Davis states.
According to the release, HCM is the most common form of feline heart disease and results in thickening of the walls of the heart ventricles and altering of heart function. Cats with this disease may suffer blood clot formation, congestive heart failure and sudden death. In people, HCM is a frequent cause of sudden cardiac death that can even afflict seemingly healthy young athletes.
HCM affects approximately one in 500 people and may affect as many as one in seven cats. More than 1,500 genetic mutations have been associated with the disease in people, creating challenges for researchers. However, veterinary scientists are making strides in identifying the best treatment options for the disease since the feline condition and human condition are so similar.
In the study, treatment with MYK-461 eliminated left ventricular obstruction in five cats with HCM. The novel drug is the first in its class and uniquely addresses the functional changes seen in human and feline HCM, the release states.
“This is an exciting discovery for both animals and humans-an excellent representation of the One Health concept in action,” says Associate Professor Joshua Stern, chief of the Cardiology Service at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. “The positive result in these five cats shows that MYK-461 is viable for use in cats as a possible option to halt or slow the progression of HCM.”
Current treatment for cats with HCM is largely symptomatic. There is no preventative therapy for HCM that is shown to change the course of disease.
“There has been little to no progress in advancing the treatment of HCM in humans or animals for many years,” Stern says. “This study brings new hope for cats and people.”
With this proof of concept that the drug is viable for use in cats, UC Davis hopes to conduct a clinical trial in the near future, which could determine if MYK-461 has the potential to become the accepted protocol for care of cats with HCM.