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A biomedical startup down the road from me was developing something called HDL Selective Delipidation. It's a process that passed the FDA safety tests, and effectively reduced coronary plaque in a small test group. It might never get to wider trials because their sources of funding dried up, thanks to our crippled economy, and they had to close their doors. This is after putting about $60 million into the business.

Since you are probably not a doctor, allow me to explain the importance of "reduced coronary plaque." Doctors prescribe drugs called statins for people who are predisposed to cardiovascular events. Statins slow the progression of atherosclerosis (plaque in the coronary arteries). Slowing it down is good enough to substantially reduce the rate of cardiovascular problems in this country. But even with statins, people who are predisposed to cardiovascular problems are still more likely than not to have a problem down the road.

Unlike statins, HDL Selective Delipidation actually reversed the progression of coronary plaque, in just seven weeks, at least with the small test group. If the company had funding for larger trials, the process might someday be combined with statins to be a powerful one-two punch.

How many lives could it save?  Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing about 450,000 people per year. There are about 1.2 million new and recurrent cases of coronary attacks per year, of which 38% will die.  If this new treatment could reduce the mortality rate by 10% (which I'm told is conservative), it would save 46,000 people a year.  It could also significantly reduce healthcare expenditures and improve patients' quality of life.

As it stands now, perhaps 46,000 people will die per year because the company just entered bankruptcy. The key employees are still available and eager to make this process work. If you know anyone who invests in this sort of company (at a ridiculously low cost), such as venture capitalists or biotech companies, pass them a link to this post and see if you can save some lives, including maybe your own.

The company's website is still live at http://www.lipidsciences.com/ .  For more information about the product or investing in it, contact Tim Perlman at tperlman@lipidsciences.com.


[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the company. When I asked my friend Tim how many people might die because the company couldn't get funding, I felt it was important to blog about it.]

 
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Nov 14, 2008
Listen, I'm a pharmaceuticals analyst. I analyze this stuff for a living. Right now pharma companies are desperate to fill up their weakening pipelines. Anything worth its salt would be bought up. And yes, even in this economy, pharma companies are eager to buy up candidates. I don't cover the cardiovascular market (I cover CNS disorders), but I see a few problems which may be why this company isn't a good buyout target.

True, this may work to reduce plaques, but do you know what they do? The trial involved taking blood out of patients (weekly), adding solvents to the blood, charcoal filtering it so it's safe to go back in the patient, then reinfusing it into the patient. They did it for 7 weeks in the trial. Yes, after a long recruitment period, they finally found 28 people willing to do this and 92% of them stuck with it. But who would do this in real life? Do you know how expensive that would be? And, the amount of reduction? Average decrease of 5.3% of plaques in the coronary arteries vs. 1.33% increase in placebo. Is that justification for the cost/risk? Maybe. But I can see why no one would want to invest in this. Not b/c of the economy, b/c of this product's commercial prospects.
 
 
Nov 10, 2008
The problem lies not only with the recession, but also with the FDA. See Peter Huber's "Curing Diversity" in the Autumn issue of City Journal. It's not available on-line yet, but should be soon (check http://www.city-journal.org/).
 
 
Nov 8, 2008
I'm pretty sure someone must have suggested this, but you can try a charity walk/marathon to raise awareness and thereby get more funding for the project... Just an option till some of your esteemed readers manage to rope in a VC...
 
 
Nov 8, 2008
One of the reasons that the US Economy is not doing well is because the US Auto Industry is down. Remember that one in 10 jobs is related to the US auto Industry and it is the last major manufacturing base for the US economy. If it were not for the US Manufacturing plants we would not have won WW2...

The 3 months in Service Quality of Ford is equivalent to Toyota... Remember. If you did not have the US auto Industry, we would probably not win the next world war... Didn't it bother you to know that the software that runs in many computers was developed in china. It bothers me that everything that is manufactured is mande in China... We are giving away the store...

There you have it...
 
 
Nov 7, 2008
Wow! So many people are not listening, are they? I see a lot of comments about diet and exercise but Scott's comment specifically said 'predisposed'! Bad diet and lack of exercise definitely can have an adverse effect on one's health. But as we know, physically fit people with good diet habits can still have high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, the latter complicated by coronary plaque. How would it feel to work your butt off exercising, eat only healthy foods, and find out that you're getting no benefit out of it? Heredity is a huge player in the cardiovascular world. In my family we have exceptionally low cholesterol, both bad and good. I have to take fish oil everyday to get my good cholesterol up. My bad cholesterol hovers under 100 most of the time, with the worst test coming in at 156. Must have had french fries every day that week!
The point is that this medicine isn't a license to eat crappy foods, it is a way people can improve their health, and possibly lengthen their lives here on earth.
 
 
Nov 7, 2008
DRN24, I can name a whole host of pharmaceuticals that actually cure things, not just treat symptoms. Every antibiotic works by killing the bacterial infections. Fungicides (such as those used to treat athlete's foot and nail fungal growth, as well as yeast infections) do the same thing with fungal infections. Most anti-cancer drugs selectively kill cancer cells at a much higher rate than they do noncancerous cells, and thus are treating the underlying illness by getting rid of the cancer.

Of course, ingested or injected substances are unlikely to cure the vast majority of the diseases of affluent societies. That's because most of these diseases are caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetics, and gene therapy is still rather experimental. Cures for those illnesses will often involve something more complicated than taking a pill or getting a shot; for instance, except in rare cases, we already do have a "cure" for obesity--a combination of a sensible diet and frequent exercise. But even with those limitation, the fact of the matter is a far higher percentage of western medical treatments actually cure the underlying disease than is the case for "alternative" treatment, many of which are explicitly based on matching symptoms to alleviate them--the fraud of homeopathy, for instance, calls for treating a symptom with a dilution of a substance that causes that exact symptom (though diluted so far that, statistically speaking, it is unlikely that even a single molecule of the substance remains--you're paying for nothing more than water).
 
 
Nov 7, 2008
The recession won't kill anyone. Given a long enough time span everyone's survival rate drops to zero.
 
 
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Nov 7, 2008
Dean Ornish's program has been shown to reverse heart disease, with no drugs!

Scott, stick to the financial advise.
 
 
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Nov 7, 2008
What some of you are missing is that "cure" is not "prevention". Smallpox wasn't cured, it was prevented (by vaxination). So an approach such as is being suggested by Scott's post is a Pharma's best friend as it'll be sold for many years if it "cures" viruses (OK enables the body to identify the virus and then kill it). This isn't a preventative approach - you need to be ill before you can be cured!

On the HDL side it sounded like a permanently needed regime, perhaps every 10 years for most folk but more often for those at greater risk. So again the big Pharms should be interested. After all the Westerner's diet won't improve that much and the UK and Europe are doing their best to become as fat as North American.

Kind of ironic so many die becuase they can't produce enough to feed themselves!

Spleen vented - back to the cubicle....
 
 
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Nov 7, 2008
This does sound like an interesting product. Now personally I might be in a mind to invest in it, but as a lowly grad student I don't have that level of money. Would it be possible for them to arrange a buy-in fund that doesn't actually by-in until there is enough money in it to have realistic shot? (caus in my case we'd be talking a few 1000 $, which is not going to save the company- just lose me my money- however with lots of small revenue streams you can get high enough to make a difference)
 
 
Nov 6, 2008
How does saving lives help the economy? I thought you had mentioned before that a growing economic problem was due to so many people retiring and living too long afterward.
 
 
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Nov 6, 2008
It seems we got a little off topic here, but sadly webgrunts original comment is fairly accurate. There is no money in cures, big Pharma is only interested in keeping a lifelong customer by treating the symptoms, not the cure.

Can anyone name one single drug that actually cures anything? Most likely no. Drugs treat the symptoms, not the cure, and that is exactly what big Pharma wants, a customer for life paying $100 a month on pills. There is no money in curing people.

I recently met a naturopath who treats cancer using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). My neighbor, who was diagnosed with 3 different types of cancer 6 years ago, is healthy and well and 100% cancer free because of simple HBOT. So we tried it on my cat, who was diagnosed with terminal feline leukemia. She is now 100% leukemia free. I bought a 10 Liter oxygen concentrator and use them everyday when I get on the treadmill. It is a huge relief knowing that my family will never need to worry about cancer.

For those of you who think I'm full of it, google "Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy AND cancer". All the big medical web site will scoff at it and warn you not to believe it, but many sites will talk about how it saves lives every day. Also google "Otto Warburg", the physicist who won the nobel prize in 1929 for proving that cancer cannot survive in a high oxygen environment.
 
 
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Nov 6, 2008
Income is the best predictor of healthy lifespan. First thing up for "income" and "mortality": "People whose family income was less than $5,000 in 1980 could expect to live about 25 % fewer years than people whose family income was greater than $50,000." Do the math. URL: http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/7140.html
 
 
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Nov 6, 2008
If the markets were the gods that laissez-faire capitalist ideologues claim them to be, why would there be a billion people living on $1.50 or less per day? There should be big profits in helping people to support a family of five on $20 a day instead of less than $10 shouldn't there? Markets are not God. There is no Divine Hand. There's more money in giving a rich man a $10 !$%*!$%* than giving a poor woman $10 a day for 12, 16, 18 hours work.
 
 
Nov 6, 2008
Scott, you're rich...why don't you do it?
 
 
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Nov 6, 2008
We lost just a lot of money because of the financial system's breakdown and you want us to invest ethically? Let's just earn money for now and do the welfare afterwards.

Btw, yesterday 20.000 children died and it was not in the news. Everyday 20.000 children die. Of hunger.
 
 
Nov 6, 2008
So...if I invest in this company, can I reward myself with killing 46,000 people per year and it'll all balance out?

That's a deal even if I'm only a 0.1% stockholder.
 
 
Nov 6, 2008
It's difficult to tell from the website, but it sounds like the treatment works by removing plasma from your body, delipidating, then putting the plasma back. And you have to do this for 7 weeks?

I think I see why investors aren't all that excited. Not something most people are going to be willing to do as preventive medicine and it can't be cheap.
 
 
Nov 6, 2008
I am not enjoying this blog a whole lot these days. Did the tenor of the posts change, or did I?
 
 
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Nov 6, 2008
Bla bla bla, not saving lives is not the same as killing people bla bla bla

Bla bla bla Government is bad, the free market solves everything bla bla bla

It is amazing how an intelligent blog attracts so much stupidity.

Thank God the idiot and his crooks will be out of office soon before they completely kill the country, and an intelligent man who looks further then his wallet and the theory of greed will take over. America, we have hope for you again.
 
 
 
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