Personalizing myocarditis diagnostics through novel biomarkers

Myocarditis is defined as inflammation of the heart muscle, most often associated with viral infections. While the true occurrence of myocarditis is difficult to establish, it affects all ages and sexes and is a major cause of sudden death in young people.

Recognizing myocarditis in the clinic is challenging. Current tools for making a diagnosis are invasive (requiring access to heart tissue) and imprecise, leading to poor patient outcomes. Any delay in proper diagnosis may lead to dramatic measures like heart transplantation to ensure patient survival.

The goal of Dr. Hanson’s research is to develop tools to diagnose viral myocarditis more precisely, allowing for each patient to be treated in a timely fashion and on an individual basis. This will include applying knowledge from mouse models of viral myocarditis to humans. In these models, Dr. Hanson has so far discovered increased amounts of certain proteins in myocarditis hearts when compared to unaffected hearts. Previous work suggests these markers could improve our ability to identify patients with myocarditis, and may reliably distinguish those patients with viral infection in the heart muscle from others with inflammation but no infection.

This research will improve insight into what happens at the level of molecules during viral myocarditis, potentially identifying new ways to treat the disease. Ultimately, leading to the development of a non-invasive blood test to diagnose myocarditis, personalizing how patients with myocarditis are treated and managed.