Determining the risk of heart attack is not as simple as measuring cholesterol. A staggering fact shows that approximately 50% of people who have had heart attacks have reported “normal” cholesterol numbers. Since cholesterol cannot dissolve in the blood, it has to be transported to and from cells by carriers called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are actually the culprits that can build up in a person’s arteries and cause heart attacks. Research has revealed that it is the number of various lipoprotein particles present that contributes to heart disease, not how much cholesterol is present.
Dr. James Otvos, with the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), discovered that nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) could measure lipoprotein levels in blood plasma. NC State's Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) successfully pursued patent protection for applications of the NMR technology and worked with Dr. Otvos to determine a commercialization path for his groundbreaking work. With support from OTT and NC State’s Technology Education and Commercialization (TEC) program administered by the College of Management, Dr. Otvos founded the company LipoMed in 1994 based on his innovative NMR technology and developed the first test to directly measure lipoprotein particles. In 1999 LipoScience, Inc. (formerly LipoMed) began to commercialize the NMR LipoProfile® screening test.
Numerous clinical studies (including a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control in 2002) have shown the NMR LipoProfile® test to be more effective than traditional cholesterol tests in predicting coronary heart disease risk. The ability to better predict heart disease risk is particularly important given its prevalence. The American Heart Association estimates that 80 million adults in the U.S. have heart disease, making it the #1 killer of Americans. In 2008, LipoScience, Inc. announced an agreement with Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) to offer its proprietary NMR LipoProfile® test. LabCorp serves more than 220,000 physicians, government agencies, managed care organizations, hospitals, clinical labs, and pharmaceutical companies, providing a greatly expanded market for the diagnostic test. Over three million tests have been administered to date and North Carolinians have expanded access to the medical diagnostic product that The Wall Street Journal called a “promising screening test that could save lives.”
For further information, please contact:
Billy B. Houghteling
Director, Office of Technology Transfer
North Carolina State University