Will Biotech Cure Heart Disease?
Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in the developed world, killing 1 million people per year in the United States alone. But there is reason to be optimistic that this scourge can be vanquished. Already, drugs like Pfizer's Lipitor and Merck's Zocor can cut the risk of heart attacks by one-third, and bigger gains are expected from a new generation of drugs. These drugs, mainly developed by small entrepreneurial firms, come from mining huge genetic databases, or by studying strange mutations that cropped up in particular people. If one works, it will easily rack up billions of dollars in sales--and save millions of lives. Says Eric Topol, provost and chief academic officer at the Cleveland Clinic: "By 2020, I would predict that cardiovascular disease is a disease that's largely preventable, if not fully preventable.