Volume 92, Issue 3

Friday, May 29, 1998

big business


A healthy dose of money for research

By Michelle Demeyere
Gazette Staff

Heart and stroke research received a $550,000 boost at the John P. Robarts Research Institute as the result of a donation from two pharmaceutical companies last week.

Parke-Davis and Pfizer Canada gave the money for research of Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication.

The grant was given to three researchers, David Spence, scientist and director of the Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre at the institute, Murray Huff, director of Robarts Vascular Biology Group and Robert Hegele, also of the Vascular Biology Group.

"The objective is to better define who would benefit from the drug," said Mark Poznanky, president and scientific director of the institute.

Lipitor is an approved cholesterol-lowering agent discovered and developed by Parke-Davis and marketed in 35 countries in collaboration with Pfizer. "We need to monitor how the drug reverses the build-up of plaque or fat in the vessels," said Poznansky.

Spence explained that patients who are most likely to have a stroke are selected and recordings of one of the main arteries in the brain are made using ultrasound.

Kazimierz Borkowski, medical director at Parke-Davis, said the Robarts Institute was chosen because it has an outstanding reputation for lipid research. He explained this kind of research is exceptional because the researchers are looking at preventing cerebral events instead of focusing on cardiac events.

"Hopefully, the study will give us information of the continued efficacy of Lipitor. I presume it will become the leading drug to treat the lipid disorders that lead to heart attacks and strokes," Borkowski said.

Poznansky is excited about the grant because of the size of the investment and the prominence of the sponsoring corporations. "It is important that we build strong relationships with these huge companies. It enables us to do more work and have more understanding of heart disease. It also helps reduce the $30 billion cost to the health care system related to this terrible disease."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998