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A novel approach to improve cardiac performance: cardiac myosin activators.


Decreased systolic function is a central factor in the pathogenesis of heart failure, yet there are no safe medical therapies to improve cardiac function in patients. Currently available inotropes, such as dobutamine and milrinone, increase cardiac contractility at the expense of increased intracellular concentrations of calcium and cAMP, contributing to increased heart rate, hypotension, arrhythmias, and mortality. These adverse effects are inextricably linked to their inotropic mechanism of action. A new class of pharmacologic agents, cardiac myosin activators, directly targets the kinetics of the myosin head. In vitro studies have demonstrated that these agents increase the rate of effective myosin cross-bridge formation, increasing the duration and amount of myocyte contraction, and inhibit non-productive consumption of ATP, potentially improving myocyte energy utilization, with no effect on intracellular calcium or cAMP. Animal models have shown that this novel mechanism increases the systolic ejection time, resulting in improved stroke volume, fractional shortening, and hemodynamics with no effect on myocardial oxygen demand, culminating in significant increases in cardiac efficiency. A first-in-human study in healthy volunteers with the lead cardiac myosin activator, CK-1827452, as well as preliminary results from a study in patients with stable chronic heart failure, have extended these findings to humans, demonstrating significant increases in systolic ejection time, fractional shortening, stroke volume, and cardiac output. These studies suggest that cardiac myosin activators offer the promise of a safe and effective treatment for heart failure. A program of clinical studies are being planned to test whether CK-1827452 will fulfill that promise.

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