Patients experiencing chest pain are commonly evaluated with a nuclear stress test that involves administering a radioactive dye. Rather than targeting the heart directly, the radioactive dye is dispersed throughout the body, which increases the overall dose required and results in less accurate results. Positive results are followed up with a cardiac catheterization – involving even more radiation – which unnecessarily increases cancer risk and medical bills for the 15 percent of patients whose stress test was a false positive. Cardiac-Targeting Protein (CTP) is a novel peptide that can deliver agents – such as radioactive dye used for imaging – directly to the heart. By targeting the heart specifically, CTP could reduce radiation exposure by as much as 80 percent during diagnostic imaging while also improving test accuracy.

Technology Description

CTP is a first-in-its-class cell-permeant peptide that targets cardiac myocytes with great specificity. After a peripheral intravenous injection, CTP enters heart muscle cells exclusively, without any uptake by other organs. Uptake peaks at 30 minutes and subsides after 2 hours, making CTP an ideal “Trojan Horse” to deliver myriad agents of diagnostic and therapeutic value. CTP has successfully ferried fluorescent markers, iron particles, and photosensitizers to the heart during laboratory testing.


  • Specifically targets heart muscle cells
  • Washes out in 2 hours
  • Can be used as a general vehicle for various diagnostic and therapeutic agents


  • Nuclear stress tests
  • Targeted cardiac ablation therapy
  • Improved drug delivery

IP Status

US patent 9,249,184 issued February, 2016.

Stage of Development

Animal studies are actively underway to demonstrate that CTP can deliver radioisotopes in common clinical use for imaging, to the mouse heart. Concurrently, mouse toxicity studies are being conducted to pave the way for an IND application for Phase 0 clinical human trials.

Notable Mentions

  • 2016 winner of Pitt Innovation Challenge
  • Pitt Ventures First Gear Program