Five-year project aims to develop new biomarker platform and early therapeutic approaches.

Sigma-Aldrich will receive National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funding as part of a new collaboration with the government agency and Boston University to develop methods for measuring potential biomarkers of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). The ultimate goal of the five-year initiative is the development of diagnostic tools for the early detection and prevention of CVD and new approaches to early treatment.

Sigma-Aldrich’s Sigma Life Science business will work in partnership with Boston University, using plasma samples from NHLBI’s Framingham Heart Study (FHS). The firm will analyze samples from about 7,000 FHS participants to investigate 180 potential biomarkers for CVD. It aims to develop antibody reagents for each identified target biomarker and incorporate them into a multiplexed, high-throughput platform for measuring the target proteins. The project is part of a major FHS program known as the Systems Approach to Biomarker Research in Cardiovascular Disease.

“Through this project, Sigma Life Science, the NHLBI and Boston University are furthering insight into a number of important CVD targets,” remarks Dave Smoller, president of Sigma-Aldrich’s research biotech business unit. “By embarking on this exciting effort, we believe we will help to develop the next generation of biomarker technologies for life science research and therapeutic applications and provide greater understanding into the genetics and biological pathways of heart disease.” Relevant data from the new studies will be made available to other researhcers through the dbGAP.

Initiated in 1948 the FHS now includes over 14,000 participants from three generations of the same families. Funded by NHLBI and carried out in collaboration with Boston University’s School of Medicine and School of Public Health, the study has already led to the identification of CVD risk factors including high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and obesity.

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