About Cardiomyopathy

Our initial focus is on the treatment of heritable cardiomyopathies, a group of rare, genetically-driven forms of heart failure that result from biomechanical defects in cardiac muscle contraction. Our initial pipeline of therapeutic programs focuses on the chronic treatment of the two most common forms of heritable cardiomyopathy—hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, and dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM. 

Heritable cardiomyopathies, such as HCM and DCM, affect as many as 700,000 children and adults in the U.S. alone. There are currently no approved therapeutic products indicated for the treatment of HCM or DCM, both of which are chronic and debilitating diseases. Patients with heritable cardiomyopathies are typically treated with drugs that are indicated for broader cardiovascular disorders and do not address the underlying cause of the disease. As the disease progresses, patients have limited treatment options, such as surgical or other invasive interventions and heart transplant.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 

HCM is the most common form of heritable cardiomyopathy. It is estimated that as many as 630,000 people in the United States have a form of HCM. 

HCM is defined as an otherwise unexplained thickening of the walls of the heart, known as hypertrophy. The consequences include reduced blood volumes and cardiac output, reduced ability of the left ventricle to expand, and high filling pressures. These can all contribute to reduced effort tolerance and symptoms that include shortness of breath and chest pain. In patients with HCM, the muscles forming the left ventricle contract excessively, are abnormally stiff and are prone to both fibrosis and muscle cell death. As result, the left ventricular chamber is smaller than normal and is not able to relax and expand properly, thus reducing the heart’s pumping capacity.

HCM is a chronic disease and for the majority of patients, the disease progresses slowly and can be extremely disabling. Mild exertion can quickly result in fatigue or shortness of breath, and a patient’s ability to participate in normal work, family or recreational activities can be substantially curtailed. For some patients, disease progression results in disabling heart failure that can prevent the patients from holding a job or even performing everyday household tasks or other activities of daily living. HCM can also cause stroke or sudden cardiac death. HCM is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people. 

MyoKardia is currently evaluting its lead drug candidate, MYK-461, in multiple clinical trials. For more information, please visit clinicaltrials.gov.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy 

We estimate that DCM afflicts about one million people in the United States, of which approximately 100,000 have an identified sarcomeric mutation leading to DCM.

DCM is defined broadly as heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in the absence of prior heart attack or other recognized causes. In DCM, the walls of the left ventricle are thin and over-expanded, leading to improper contraction and insufficient blood being pumped by the heart. This results in a dilated, thin-walled left ventricle that does not supply sufficient blood to the body.

DCM is a life-threatening progressive disease. Once symptoms appear, a patient’s condition typically declines steadily over the next few years. Typical symptoms of DCM include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the extremities or an irregular heartbeat. As the disease progresses, patients become increasingly debilitated and experience persistent shortness of breath, even at rest. Diastolic function, or the heart’s ability to relax and fill with blood, is also impaired because the heart is already expanded. The dilated left ventricle is itself deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen that may contribute to fibrosis and the risk of dangerous heart rhythm disturbances. In addition, whether or not symptoms have appeared, DCM patients are at risk of sudden cardiac death.