We heart this new feline cardiology drug


Good news for people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy means good news for catsand vice versa.

Heartfelt need

"Can someone please get this drug FDA-approved and commercially available for me?" Maine coon cats are particularly susceptible to inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (Shutterstock.com.)A drug in development is causing cardiologists' pulses to race as they consider the possibility of a new treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that kills both cats and people. Cats are particularly afflicted, with some experts estimating prevalence as high as 15 percent. HCM cats may suffer blood clot formation, congestive heart failure and, all too often, sudden death. About one in 500 people is affected, accounting for many of those news stories in which a seemingly healthy athlete drops dead on the court. The disease is remarkably similar in both species. Current treatment options are lousy, mostly focusing on the management of signs and symptoms but without good ways to do even that.

Drug details

The drug molecule, currently known as MYK-461 (how's that for catchy?), is currently under development by a company called MyoKardia. It's thought to work by targeting the specific heart cell that goes haywire and causes thickening of the left ventricle, which in many cases obstructs outflow of blood from the heart.

Scientists aflutter

In a study at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, MYK-461 proved effective in five Maine coon cats with an inherited form of HCM. This paves the way for many more cats to be studied, both for their own sake and as a model for the disease in humans. In the study, treatment with MYK- 461 eliminated left ventricular obstruction, causing much rejoicing among the researchers-who are most likely planning their next study at this moment.

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