A drug is said to be showing promise in the treatment of one of the most common forms of feline heart disease.

University of California, Davis vet staff believe the drug shows promise in the fight against HCM. IMAGE: Don Preisler, University of California, Davis.
University of California, Davis vet staff believe the drug shows promise in the fight against HCM. IMAGE: Don Preisler, University of California, Davis.

Research by a team including vets at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated the novel drug, MYK-461, proved effective in a study of five cats with a naturally occurring form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), an incurable disease that also affects humans.

HCM results in thickening of the walls of the heart ventricles and altering of heart function, and frequently leads to fatal consequences. Cats with the disease may suffer blood clot formation, congestive heart failure and sudden death.

Mutations

In the US, HCM is said to affect 1 in 7 cats and approximately 1 in 500 people. More than 1,500 genetic mutations have been associated with the disease in humans, creating challenges for researchers. However, vet scientists are making strides in identifying the best treatment options for the disease, since the cat and human conditions are similar.

A paper describing the work was published in PLOS ONE.

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.

Exciting discovery

Associate professor Joshua Stern, chief of the cardiology service at the UC Davis vet hospital, said: “This is an exciting discovery for both animals and humans – an excellent representation of one health in action. The positive result in these five cats shows MYK-461 is viable for use in cats as a possible option to halt or slow the progression of HCM.”

Treatment for cats with HCM is largely symptomatic and no preventive therapy is shown to change the course of disease.

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.

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