School of Medicine becomes regional heart center
Selection will provide new cutting-edge treatment for patients
March 14, 2012, 10:49 pm · Updated March 16, 2012, 3:54 am·
Penn is now a part of a national network of hospitals that collaborate on heart failure research.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been selected as a regional center for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Heart Failure Clinical Trials Network for the 2012 to 2018 cycle. As a regional center, Penn will be leading collaborative congenitive heart failure research with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Lancaster Heart Group. Penn is one of nine in the nation selected to be a regional center.
The Heart Failure Clinical Research Network is an initiative established in 2006 “to promote research to improve care of heart failure patients,” said Alice Mascette, Senior Clinical Science Advisor in NHLBI’s Division of Cardiovascular Science.
Medical centers across the country apply to receive grants for their research. Applications for the competition, which takes place every seven years, are judged by a panel of National Institute of Health-appointed peers.
Heart failure is a condition that affects five million Americans and costs $35 billion in the U.S. Heart failure occurs when the heart doesn’t pump as effectively or efficiently as it should. Mascette explained that although there are drug and device therapies for the chronic illness, they are not curative and the condition still interferes with patients’ quality of life.
Professor of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Penn Regional Center Kenneth Margulies wrote in an email that being selected for this honor “will provide access to promising cutting-edge therapies for our patients, a structure for deploying our new clinical research initiatives and unique educational opportunities for the next generation of heart failure investigators.”
What’s unique about this competition, Mascette said, is that instead of centers receiving funding for each of their individual proposals, the nine centers discuss their ideas over three months, and choose two or three projects to pursue as a collective. A consensus of the projects is expected to be finalized next week.
“The process is deliberately slow … so that we can get the best studies,” she said.
Once the projects are chosen, it will take several months to launch them as the researchers seek approval from their individual ethics boards and the Food and Drug Administration.
“Two additional studies that are likely to be taken on by the Heart Failure Network include one … to help preserve kidney function in heart failure patients and a trial examining whether analogues of the peptide GLP-1 can improve outcomes in heart failure patients,” Margulies wrote. The peptide is commonly used in anti-diabetic therapy and is part of Penn’s proposed project, according to a press statement.
The collaboration between hospitals also has a positive effect on patients.
LHG Director of Heart Failure Roy Small said community hospitals such as LHG may not always have the resources to conduct the kinds of clinical trials at Penn.
The recent consortium between Penn Med, LHG and Johns Hopkins allows the three to “streamline and improve the enrollment of patients” and to offer new therapy options that might not be available at the individual hospitals, he said.