A consortium financed in part by AstraZeneca and Merck is launching a $30 million study to investigate the type of arterial plaque that is most likely to be subject to inflammation and rupture. This is the most lethal type of so-called "vulnerable" plaque that is linked to the hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from coronary artery disease. Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, a leading research cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said that identifying who will have plaque rupture is the "holy grail" of cardiology. Dr. Valentin Fuster at Mt. Sinai Medical Center is leading the research program. Humana and BG Medicine--formerly Beyond Genomics--are also sponsoring the project. Researchers will investigate the cases of 4,000 to 6,000 Humana members who are at risk of a heart attack. Studying their outcomes over a period of years can provide direct clues to their conditions, and lead investigators to narrow their search for new therapies. This is by no means the only such research project focusing on plaque. Abbott Laboratories, for example, recently launched a study of 700 to investigate the plaque in coronary arteries.
- read the article on the project from The New York Times