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An Uncertain Future?

The last couple of months can be described as worrying for those involved in cardiovascular drug development. Indeed, who would not be made to feel uncomfortable by manuscripts in journals such as The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine with ominous titles such as ‘Threats to the Future of Cardiovascular Research’ (1,2)? Most of the commentaries followed the announcement by Pfizer that it would withdraw almost all research and development in cardiovascular disease. The decision taken by Pfizer seems to have been based on the assumption that the company would find it difficult to gain sufficient return on investment if the R&D focus was also on cardiovascular drug research. Obviously, it is hard to construe fully the reasoning behind this, but it is conceivable that the small likelihood of developing ‘blockbusters’ in this area played a role, and that the decision was also fuelled by disappointment after the failure of torcetrapib. However, it may also reflect the fact that treatment of cardiovascular disease is no longer a case of simply lowering cholesterol or high blood pressure levels and leaving the more challenging goals.


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Koos Burggraaf graduated in BioPharmaceutical Sciences and Medicine at Leiden University, Netherlands. He was registered as a physician (with honours) in 1990 and has been a board certified clinical pharmacologist since 1997. He obtained his PhD in 1998. He is currently Director of Pharmacology of the Vascular Medicine group at the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR), and practices as a physician at an outpatient clinic for prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk populations. His main interests are in early drug development (for cardiovascular, metabolic, inflammation-related diseases and anticoagulant drugs) and paediatric clinical pharmacology.

Matthijs Moerland graduated in Biomedical Sciences at Leiden University, Netherlands, in 2002. He recently obtained his PhD degree at Erasmus University Rotterdam, after studying the involvement of PLTP, a lipid transfer protein, in lipoprotein metabolism and atherogenesis in animal models. In 2007, he started as Senior Clinical Scientist at CHDR, working in the vascular medicine research group. His main field of interest is the integration of immunology, endocrinology and endovascular reactivity in translational medicine. He is currently setting up the research line ‘pharmacological modulation of the ex vivo inflammatory response’.

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Koos Burggraaf
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Matthijs Moerland
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