A heart stronger …

A new drug candidate has shown efficacy in the treatment of heart failure. The Omecamtiv mercabil or OM, is its first name, extends and improves the quality of each contraction of the heart muscle. Rather than increasing their frequency thus increasing the efficiency of beats.

Its operation was uncovered by the team of Professor John Cleland of the University of Hull in Britain. In animals and rodents, it has demonstrated that OM would improve myocardial function of the animal, heart failure but also healthy. If at the conclusion of ongoing trials, it proved its effectiveness in humans, it could become the first in a new class of drugs, activators of cardiac myosin.

By activating this protein is the main generating force in the contraction of heart muscle, it prolongs the contraction of the heart. This effect relates more specifically the ability to contraction of the left ventricle, which pumps oxygen-rich blood to send in the rest of the body.

A more efficient heart

In heart failure, the heart does not beat often enough or hard enough. Thus, different tissues and organs are not sufficiently supplied with fresh blood oxygenated. Instead of making the heart beat more frequently as the treatments currently used, OM leads to contract further. The volume of blood pumped with each beat is thus increased.

However, the new drug candidate does not increase energy expenditure. “This proves that the OM makes the heart beat more effectively” said Prof. Cleland. “This initial test is very promising, and studies on a larger scale will begin. Indeed, we must determine whether the improvements in cardiac function of patients actually benefit, in terms of symptoms and quality of life and morbidity and mortality. ”

Tests still long

Developed in partnership with Cytokinetics and Amgen Laboratories, OM has already been the subject of five Phase I trials in healthy volunteers. Subsequently, two Phase IIa, conducted among patients with heart failure have shown to improve some cardiac parameters, such as the volume of blood pumped with each beat. These tests also showed good tolerability.

A Phase IIb trial began in April 2011. It should be on nearly 600 patients hospitalized for acute heart failure with impairment of left ventricular function. It will assess the short-term clinical results obtained by administering three different doses of OM. The results are expected in 2013. The drug is being tested as an intravenous formulation, but an oral form is under development.

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