Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Developing Tests for Heart Disease

The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has launched an initiative to find risk factors and markers that could lead to new blood tests to identify high risk individuals for heart disease and stroke. A public-private partnership has been established to enable researchers to apply cutting-edge technology to stored blood samples from thousands of FHS participants. FHS is collaborating on the research with Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health.

According to NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Navel, M.D., “This study will take our research to a whole new level. Imagine having a simple blood test to tell us if a patient is at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. At that point, we could do so much more to prevent or delay these often debilitating and deadly diseases.”

“This partnership will help us bolster new discoveries about heart disease risk factors by applying the latest technology to data collected by Framingham researchers while continuing to respect and safeguard our participants’ privacy,” said Daniel Levy, M.D., Director of FHS and the NHLBI Center for Population Studies. Dr. Levy is also Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Researchers will study 1,000 blood biomarkers. The study called the “Systems Approach to Biomarker research in Cardiovascular Disease (SABReCVD) will identify and validate new biomarkers—such as proteins or molecules in the blood for heart disease.

The research will be conducted under a five year cooperative research and development agreement with BG Medicine, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology research company that has developed patented technology to detect and validate subtle biological changes at the molecular level.

Other projects that compose the SABReCVD initiative will explore protein biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and gene expression changes associated with the biomarkers. Data from these studies will be accessible to other scientists through the Database for Genotype and Phenotype (dbGAP).