CHICAGO — Disruptive innovations are in the process of changing how CV research is conducted, which could potentially deliver better treatments to patients more quickly, American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, MD, FAHA, said during a keynote address at the AHA Scientific Sessions.
“New diagnostic and therapeutic options are being discovered at a pace unseen in human history,” said Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Harvard Medical School. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to harness these advances to save and improve lives.”
A challenge, he said, is to “improve the discovery and preclinical phase of drug development, as well as the clinical trials by which we assess new treatments,” because current methods are extremely expensive.
Antman cited the following innovations as examples of tools to be used in future CV research:
- A systems medicine approach, whereby a network of information is synthesized from genetic, molecular and cellular studies and a model is constructed to predict an individual’s response to a treatment, “streamlining further testing.”
- Reprogramming human skin fibroblasts to pluripotent stem cells, which can in turn be differentiated into specific cells such as cardiomyocytes. This, Antman said, can enable doctors to screen drugs for patients with a specific disease characteristic just by harvesting skin cells from them.
- The heart-on-a-chip bioengineering platform, which can enable easy testing of cardiomyocyte responses to drugs and electrical stimulation.
- Devices that track physiologic parameters and communicate data via smartphones. The Healthy Heart Study, being conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, with support from the AHA, is using this technology to study 1 million people worldwide, Antman said.
At the vanguard of the new research, he said, is the Cardiovascular Genome Phenome Study (CVGPS), co-sponsored by the AHA, which will study participants from the Framingham Heart Study, Jackson Heart Study and other cohorts to “examine the genetic and epigenetic determinants of differences in disease incidence, prevalence, risk and prognosis, and in response to treatments across ethnicities. Investigators in CVGPS also will provide access to a state-of-the-art biorepository and introduce new e-health approaches to do digital data collection.”
The AHA announced the first eight funded researchers for the CVGPS study. They are:
- Ramy Arnaout, MD, PhD, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who will study diversity in CVD, aging and death in a large multi-ethnic study cohort.
- Donna Arnett, PhD, MPH, BSN, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and past president of the AHA, who will study the epigenetic determinants of left ventricular structure and function of black adults with hypertension.
- Christy Avery, PhD, MPH, from the University of North Carolina, who will study pharmacogenomics of risk factors for cardiac arrhythmias in global populations.
- Susan Cheng, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who will study chronic inflammation, CV aging and longevity.
- John Cole, MD, MS, from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, who will study early-onset stroke and an extreme phenotype to identify rare variants in ischemic stroke.
- Simin Liu, MD, ScD, MPH, from Brown University, who will study integrative genomics of gene-diet interactions on vascular outcomes across ethnicities.
- George O’Connor, MD, MS, from Boston University Medical Campus, who will study transcriptomatic and epigenetic signatures of tobacco exposure.
- Marc Vidal, PhD, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, who will conduct an integrated genetic, transcriptomatic and epigenetic analysis of CVD phenotypes. – by Erik Swain
For more information:
Antman E. OPS.01: Opening Session. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 15-19, 2014; Chicago.
Disclosure: Antman reports no relevant financial disclosures.