First Framingham Heart Study industry collaboration to focus on CV biomarkers

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In the first public-private partnership for the 60-year Framingham Heart Study, BG Medicine will join with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Boston University to develop a blood test that could predict heart disease in patients with no obvious symptoms.

The Waltham, Mass.-based BG Medicine, a cardiovascular (CV) diagnostic company with 45 employees, said no grant money is associated with the collaboration.

The five-year cooperative research and development agreement will conduct a series of studies to identify biomarkers which are believed to increase the risk for CV disease and diabetes. Biomarkers are indicators within genes that can be studied to determine if patients with those indicators, such as proteins or antibodies, have a higher risk for certain diseases.

"This new agreement takes 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--we could do so much more to prevent or delay these often debilitating and deadly diseases," said NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD.

The NHBLI launched the Framingham Heart Study in 1948 to study the development of CV disease over time. The study originally began with 5,209 people between the ages of 30 and 62 from the town of Framingham, Mass., and eventually expanded to include some of the spouses and children of the original participants. Now, there are more than 9,000 participants spanning three generations involved in the study.