Diagnostic for Early Detection of Heart Damage

A novel biomarker for the early identification of cardiac damage, including chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity.

Despite significant medical advances and technologies, cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States, irrespective of gender or race, resulting in more than 600,000 annual deaths. Additionally, while cancer survivorship has increased significantly, the number one cause of death of cancer survivors is cardiovascular disease, and many life-saving chemotherapeutic agents have significant cardiovascular side effects which may lead to cessation of therapy.

The Need

The care of US cardiac patients currently exceeds $555 billion per year and by 2035 the cost will skyrocket to $1.1 trillion. Hence an approach that can detect early cardiac disease is critical and could have a significant impact on health care savings and the economy. The current diagnostic platforms, represented by lab tests for troponin-C and brain natriuretic peptide, are limited in their impact to positively modify clinical outcomes. This is due to their use predominantly after the emergence of heart failure symptoms. Unfortunately, this limits the efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Furthermore, while cardiac tissue damage is one of the most severe and frequent side effects of chemotherapy, there are no cardiac-specific assays for oncology patients, a significant and growing population.

The Technology

The inventors have established that a particular spectrin protein, βII-spectrin, plays an integral role in normal cardiac function, and abnormalities in this protein lead to heart failure and electrical abnormalities/arrhythmias. They propose that this new pathway can lead to earlier detection of cardiovascular disease and tissue damage, prior to overt clinical symptoms, and can serve as a diagnostic marker of cardiac health. Data indicate that βII-spectrin is decreased in mice treated with chemotherapy and may be a biomarker for cancer treatment-related cardiotoxicity. This invention is a cardiac-specific βII-spectrin ELISA which can be used in a host of cardiovascular disease conditions to detect early cardiac damage. This includes early detection of cardiac changes in cancer patients.

Commercial Applications

This invention can be used for early diagnosis of cardiac damage, including chemotherapy-related cardiopathies. This can enable more effective therapeutic intervention.


This technology has the potential to detect cardiac damage prior to the emergence of symptoms. Also, it may allow physicians to identify heart damage in cancer patients with chemotherapy, thereby modulating the treatment to avoid long-term heart damage.


Pending applications in USA and Europe.

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