A long-standing effort to commercialize a Mayo Clinic-developed type of a designer drug that addresses both chronic heart failure and associated renal failure has been suspended by a San Francisco biotech company, which licensed the technology in 2008.
Capricor Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: CAPR) of San Francisco announced this month that it was terminating its license agreement with Mayo for the technology, which it was developing for its Cenderitide pharmaceutical candidate.
In its statement, the company, formerly known as Nile Therapeutics, said it was dropping further development of the Phase II-stage heart failure therapy in favor of concentrating on other unrelated drug candidates in its development pipeline.
“Our decision to return these rights is a strategic move as we prioritize our efforts to advance our core cell and exosome-based therapeutic development programs,” said Capricor president and CEO Linda Marban.
Cenderitide, also known as CD-NP, touted as “the only dual natriuretic peptide receptor agonist,” was tested in two small Phase II studies in subjects with chronic, stable heart failure before the company’s decision to suspend its efforts.
The therapy is based on research performed by Dr. John C. Burnett, a renowned Mayo cardiovascular expert and medical school professor. One of his areas of expertise is the heart-kidney link and the use of bioengineered hormones called “designer natriuretic peptides” in treating both congestive heart failure and accompanying kidney problems.
Under the technology, a hybrid molecule is created from two naturally occurring natriuretic peptides (hormones that promote the discharge of sodium through urine): C-type natriuretic peptide, which plays a prominent role in vascular and cardiac function, and the N- and C-termini of Urodilatin, which increases renal blood flow.
Together, the CNP element is meant to inhibit changes in the shape and functioning of the heart that can occur after heart failure, while the Urodilatin element enhances renal function and suppresses the sympathetic activity between the heart and the kidney, while also reducing blood pressure, among other benefits.
Earlier tests had demonstrated that natriuretic peptides can be effective in helping improve the frequently negative outcomes associated with heart failure.
 According to the American Heart Association, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization among adults older than 65 and is responsible for over 1 million hospital admissions annually. Among patients who have been admitted, approximately 24 percent are re-hospitalized within one month, and half are re-hospitalized within six months.
Capricor’s Cenderitide was designed as an outpatient therapy to be delivered continuously using a subcutaneous infusion pump for up to 90 days following a hospital admission for heart failure.
Burnett is also the co-founder of Zumbro Discovery, an early-stage company housed in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. In that effort, he and Mayo colleague Dr. Horng Chen are seeking to apply designer peptides to the treatment of high blood pressure. 

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