Protein Rescues Function After Heart Failure
This article was originally published in Start Up
Impaired calcium uptake is a hallmark of heart failure. The enzyme SERCA2a is known to play a critical role in maintaining the normal contractile function of those cells whose activity is decreased or disrupted in failing hearts. But its large size makes the enzyme a difficult drug target. Now, however, a research team has identified a small protein that interacts with SERCA2a after heart failure, which could open the door on a potential new approach to therapy.
You may also be interested in...
A half decade of large-scale cancer genome sequencing has identified only one new and relatively common druggable oncogene target. But the genes that cause out-of-control proliferation also create problems for the cancer cells, which may then need to hijack normal cellular functions to help them survive. A research team used genetic screening to find such a dependency and showed that inhibiting the process could improve treatment.
It's no secret increasing generic competition and regulatory oversight, combined with the financial challenges of developing a primary care drug, make cardiovascular a tough place for venture-backed biotechs. START-UP takes the pulse of four previously profiled cardiovascular companies -- arca Biopharma, Celladon, NovaCardia and Portola Pharmaceuticals, -- to see what lessons they've learned.
Across the industry, cardiovascular R&D budgets are shrinking, and in some cases, practically disappearing. Some large companies are de-emphasizing the cardiovascular space, citing factors ranging from the size and high expense of clinical trials to the challenge of proving benefit when most experimental therapies are tested in tandem with current standards of care. Nonetheless, for those companies still willing to venture into the cardiovascular arena, congestive heart failure (CHF) offers a huge, lucrative indication to pursue. Several start-up firms are targeting CHF and related conditions by a variety of mechanisms, including polymer therapeutics, microRNA targeting and gene therapy. In this issue, we profile four such start-ups: miRagen Therapeutics, NellOne Therapeutics, Phrixus Pharmaceuticals and Sorbent Therapeutics.