PHILADELPHIA — The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has been has been selected as a Regional Center for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) Heart Failure Clinical Trials Network. As part of this national network, funded by a seven-year grant, researchers and clinicians at Penn will provide scientific leadership in the collaborative development of novel approaches to the management of congestive heart failure.
"Penn's inclusion in the national network is both an honor and a great opportunity to help develop new strategies for treating patients with heart failure," said Kenneth Margulies, MD, professor of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Penn Regional Center. "The NHLBI Network 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."
Heart failure affects nearly five million Americans. In the U.S. alone, more than one million patients are hospitalized each year as a result of the condition. Largely because of the cost of these hospitalizations, the current annual economic impact of heart failure in this country is estimated at more than $35 billion.
Although common, the condition presents treating clinicians with real challenges. As the population ages, more people will be diagnosed with and suffer from the chronic debilitating symptoms of heart failure. There is no cure for heart failure, but a number of therapeutic advances may offer new options for patients with this condition. As a Regional Center for the NHLBI's Heart Failure Clinical Trials Network, Penn faculty will advance clinical research that evaluates these new strategies to diagnose, manage and treat all forms of heart failure, playing a pivotal role in bridging the gaps between research, evidence-based knowledge and clinical practice. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Lancaster Heart Group are joining with Penn in this collaboration.
"One of the roadblocks in translating new discoveries into treatments is the difficult process of early phase clinical trials. The network provides a platform where a national panel of heart failure researchers can actually work together to support and enhance these early efforts. We are thrilled to help lead this effort," said Thomas Cappola, MD, assistant professor of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Penn Regional Center.
This is the second time that the NHLBI has made funding available through the initiative. The renewal program will continue to provide support to develop, coordinate, and conduct multiple collaborative randomized clinical trials to improve heart failure outcomes.
Penn Medicine has long served as a national resource for heart failure advances. As one of the largest heart failure and transplantation program in the country, Penn clinicians follow more than 6,000 patients with heart failure. As part of the NHBLI Network, Penn is actively engaged in a promising study investigating the use of an existing peptide (GLP-1) used in anti-diabetic therapy for the treatment of heart failure.
In keeping with this history of innovation, Penn Medicine researchers will be able to recruit patients for new heart failure studies by utilizing new electronic medical record (EMR) technology to alert physicians that their patient may be eligible for a clinical trial at the point of care. An advisory appears in a patient's encounter when information in the medical record matches the clinical trial criteria. This targets and connects the most appropriate patients to a study.