In medical technology development, there are perennially long-shot technologies being pursued for their ability to make an order of magnitude shift in treatment. This, of course, seems to be the thrust of a majority of biotechnology development, which seeks to provide cures where only palliative treatments (drug or device) currently exist, such as in gene therapy and stem cell therapy.
But on a more practical level (i.e., well within the next ten years), examples include non-invasive blood glucose monitoring in diabetes, the development of effective dyslipidemia therapy and others. On that note, the development of Esperion Therapeutics' ETC-1002 took a step forward this past week, with the commencement of a Phase I clinical trial of the drug.
Dyslipidemia therapy, as its name connotes, is an approach to treating coronary heart disease not by coronary bypass, angioplasty or any physical device treatment to remove atherosclerotic plaque from clogged arteries, but by targeting the underlying metabolism of lipids that has produced those plaques, with the ultimate goal of reducing plaques non-invasively.
An effective non-invasive treatment of atherosclerosis poses a significant threat to palliative treatments. It may be a bit cliche to reduce the argument to the attractiveness of taking a pill instead of undergoing surgery, but that scenario is not far from the truth. Such a prospect puts the entire industry of device treatments for coronary artery disease (CAD) on notice.
For the time being, coronary stents still represent one of the best minimally invasive avenues for patients with CAD. (See our report.)