This article was originally published in Start Up
Endothelial dysfunction (ED) is widely recognized as the earliest possible warning sign of impending heart disease, but the invasive and complex technologies for measuring it are found only cardiovascular research labs. Endothelix Inc. hopes to integrate ED measurement and monitoring into routine clinical practice with a non-invasive, non-imaging, point-of-care screening tool for the general population.
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Launched in 2000, Volcano was a promising device start-up in what was seen at the time as one of the most exciting opportunities in cardiovascular medicine to come along in some time: vulnerable plaque. But the practical implications of vulnerable plaque have proved to be elusive, for both cardiologists and product companies. For one thing, while everyone agrees that vulnerable plaque is a fascinating concept, no one yet knows precisely what approach will work best, both in diagnosing the disease and treating it. . As the science of vulnerable plaque evolves, that evolution raises questions about the future relevance of a whole generation of tools to serve interventional cardiology. Thus, companies, like Volcano, that placed early bets on technology based on standard interventional cardiology tools, such as catheter- and guide wire-based devices, have had to hold somewhat contradictory thoughts in their mind at the same time: the benefits of conforming to existing approaches and methodologies in interventional cardiology and the likelihood that vulnerable plaque fundamentally changes certain basic assumptions of that specialty.
Less than 50% of coronary artery disease is attributable to the known risk factors-such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, family history of heart disease, and high cholesterol. That's why researchers and companies are beginning to take a close look at endothelial dysfunction, a disorder of the lining of the arteries that causes vessels to fail to expand normally in response to increased blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction is widely recognized in the clinical community as the earliest detectable harbinger of heart disease, one that would help physicians address patients before they have their first heart attack or stroke. But even more than that, many now see the disorder as a reversible condition that should be treated in its own right, to avoid the future deadly consequences of chronic inflammation, clot formation, plaque deposition, or plaque rupture. Because it's still early days for the field, Endomatrix Inc. has chosen a combination nutraceutical/pharmaceutical development path. It is getting early clinical experience in patients by testing and commercializing a proprietary dietary supplement, while at the same time developing new drugs that target endothelial dysfunction.
A combined final opinion on the European Chemicals Agency’s proposed microplastic restriction is expected from ECHA committees by year-end, at which point the European Commission will consider whether and when microplastic must be removed from all leave-on cosmetic products marketed in the EU.