Cardiomyopathy in Chemotherapy Patients

As president and CEO of Tosk, Inc., Brian Frenzel oversees research into blocking drug side effects that can be dose-limiting and potentially fatal. Focused largely on the chemotherapy field, Brian Frenzel has managed the development of compounds that reduces the cardiotoxicity of drugs such as doxorubicin, also known as Adriamycin.

Designed to kill cancer cells throughout the body, chemotherapies also attack healthy cells and cause painful and debilitating side effects. When these drugs attack the heart muscle, the patient may develop a condition known as cardiomyopathy. This condition can result in arrhythmia or chronic disease of the heart. In some cases, chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity can lead congestive heart failure, which is potentially fatal.

Most chemotherapy-related cardiomyopathies develop as a result of the use of doxorubicin or its derivatives. Since the damage to the heart is permanent, the risk of heart disease limits the recommended lifetime dose of doxorubicin to 450-550 milligrams per square meter, or about a gram for a typical patient. Even at this limited dose, 3-5% of patients experience congestive heart failure, and 25% have some degree of cardiomyopathy.

Tosk is developing drugs to reduce or eliminate the cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin and thereby improve outcomes for cancer patients.