AtheroGenics: Arresting the biology of plaques

Atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, is responsible for the lion's share of deaths in the West through its effects on the brain, heart, kidneys, and other vital organs. But until now, it has been treated indirectly with preventive, risk reduction treatments focused on controlling serum cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as with behavior modification.

Intervention often has come in late-stage disease, after heart attack or stroke. In large part, this is because the molecular mechanisms of atherosclerosis have been poorly understood.

Russell Medford and R. Wayne Alexander, cardiologists at Emory University, founded AtheroGenics in early 1994 with the goal of diagnosing and curing atherosclerosis using a relatively new concept of the disease based on their understanding of the inflammatory process.

Generic term

"Atherosclerosis is actually a generic term for a number of diseases in which the arterial wall becomes inflamed, thick, and loses elasticity," said Medford