News | January 30, 2007

Companies Collaborate to Combat Deadly Plaque

Jan. 31, 2007 — BG Medicine (BGM) has announced its participation in an alliance with Merck & Co., AstraZeneca, Royal Philips Electronics and Humana in which the companies have formed the High-Risk Plaque (HRP) Initiative. The key objective of the HRP will be to research and advance the understanding, recognition and management of high-risk plaque, the primary underlying cause of heart attacks.

By collaborating on the discovery and development of improved techniques for identifying individuals at risk for heart attacks, as well as the advancement for monitoring disease progressions and response to treatment, the initiative takes direct aim against morbidity, mortality and cost associated with cardiovascular disease.

The companies indicate that their HRP Initiative will leverage recent advances in biology and technology to design and optimize a care-cycle for high-risk plaque.

Plaque research over the last five years has told doctors that cholesterol deposits (plaque) in the coronary and carotid arteries show inflammation, and inflamed plaque — known as vulnerable plaques — can rupture without prior symptoms. When vulnerable plaque erupts in coronary arteries, blood flow is obstructed, delivering a deathblow to hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting, asymptomatic victims every year.

"The HRP Initiative is expected to make important contributions to the development of a cost-effective care-cycle for this common condition that is responsible for much suffering, disability and death in the world,” said Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the HRP Initiative. “The HRP Initiative covers a broad spectrum of pertinent issues, from molecular markers to the role of lifestyle interventions."

Dr. Fuster is a leading international cardiologist who serves as director of the Zena and Michael A. Weiner Cardiovascular Institute and the Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Center for Cardiovascular Health and director of Mount Sinai Heart.

Erling Falk, M.D., Ph.D., a prominent cardiovascular pathologist who co-chairs the Scientific Advisory Board for the HRP Initiative added, "Coming together under the umbrella of the HRP Initiative to work collaboratively to move research and development of this important disease forward will improve diagnosis and treatment of patients at high risk for serious cardiovascular disease."

Dr. Falk is professor of Cardiovascular Pathology, Department of Cardiology, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.

Companies involved in the HRP Initiative estimate they will provide $30 million in funding over four years — the group will ultimately be comprised of six sponsoring companies BG Medicine, a biotechnology research company based in Waltham, MA, is serving as the project coordinator.

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