Can We Teach Old Drugs New Tricks?

Thu, 30 October 14 09:46

An exciting new project has just been awarded funding from Enterprise Ireland (€533,000) that focuses on the repurposing of FDA approved epigenetic based therapies for the treatment of diseases associated with cardiac hypertrophy. Aberrant hypertrophy of the heart is a key pathological component of the majority of cardiac diseases and is a result of myocyte hypertrophy and fibrotic collagen deposition. 

Currently there are no therapies on the market that directly target cardiac hypertrophy as most approaches target risk factors that drive the disease without directly modifying the heart or addressing the underlying disease mechanisms.  Only in the most aggressive cases are invasive treatment strategies such as alcoholic septal ablation of excess tissue (delivery through the coronary arteries), or surgical intervention (myectomy) considered.  The aim of this project is to build a commercial case for epigenetic based therapy for hypertrophic cardiomyopathies.

This two year project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of research scientists and clinicians within UCD, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, the Heartbeat Trust, and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Dr. Chris Watson, principal investigator of this commercialisation project, stresses that “this is a really exciting and unique venture and we have a great opportunity to take the project forward along the commercialisation route by acquiring additional pre-clinical, clinical, and drug formulation data that will strengthen our case for a first-in-man trial for cardiac indication with our repurposed epigenetically targeted therapy”. 

Drug repurposing can reduce costs and timelines associated with developing new therapeutic strategies by minimising regulatory barriers of pre-clinical and clinical safety studies. Dr. John Baugh, co-PI on this project, said

Drug repurposing in the cardiovascular space is an attractive mechanism that can accelerate the process of delivering academic drug leads to the clinic.