Renova Therapeutics is a privately held gene therapy company founded in 2009. With a focus on congestive heart failure (CHF) and cardiac diseases, the company was formed to advance the research of top UCSD cardiologist, Dr. Kirk Hammond, into the clinic and to patients in dire need of treatment.
CHF is a condition where the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to provide the body with enough blood flow. As a result, the kidneys receive less blood and filter less fluid into the urine which leads to excess fluid buildup in the lungs, liver, and legs. CHF afflicts more than five million Americans and its prognosis is dismal–50% of those diagnosed die within four to five years.
The hearts of CHF patients have reduced levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), an important secondary messenger in regulating cardiac muscle contraction. Dr. Hammond, also a Renova founder, discovered that the adenylyl cyclase type 6 (AC6) gene was downregulated in CHF patients. He later discovered that function. Subsequently, Hammond and his colleagues at UC San Diego sequenced and patented the human AC6 gene.
Preclinical studies of AC6 began with a series of experiments with heart muscle cells in cell culture and animal models with heart failure. The results in mice with cardiomyopathy (a type of CHF) showed that when AC6 levels were increased, heart function and lifespan also increased. In pigs, the AC6 gene therapy led to substantial improvements in heart function and reduced dilation of the heart. This dilation, or enlargement, of the heart is the body’s compensation for the loss of the heart’s ability to pump blood sufficiently.
Renova has a small staff supporting the founders, as well as a team of clinical research professionals at each of the clinical sites. The company uses consultants with whom it has previous working relationships. In addition, the company has raised money from individual investors to finance company operations, including some of the product development costs. In support of the clinical trial with its lead product, the company has entered into a Public/Private Partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.
The chart above shows the prevalence of CHF by age. According to the NHLBI, there are an estimated 400,000 new cases. The annual number of deaths directly from CHF increased from 10,000 in 1968 to 42,000 in 1993, with another 219,000 related to the condition.
CHF is the first-listed diagnosis in 875,000 hospitalizations, and the most common diagnosis in hospital patients age 65 years and older. In that age group, one fifth of all hospitalizations have a primary or secondary diagnosis of heart failure.
11452 El Camino Real Suite 120, San Diego, CA 92130
Tel: (858) 461-1837
Jack W. Reich, PhD – President and CEO
Craig Andrews – COO
$250,000 – Therapeutic Discovery Project Grant
Kirk Hammond, MD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
VA San Diego Healthcare System