FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Heart Medicine for Blacks a First

BiDil, a heart medicine with demonstrated success in cutting heart-related deaths among blacks, may become the first medicine ever approved for a specific racial group.

This could be the start of a generation of medicines tailored to patients' genetic makeup. The drug was developed in response to evidence that regular ACE inhibitors were less effective on blacks than on other groups. Other studies suggest blacks have less nitric oxide in their blood; nitric oxide widens blood vessels, and BiDil boosts levels of nitric oxide.

However, some cardiologists believe that BiDil could be just as effective with other racial groups. They argue that social rather than genetic differences put blacks at higher risk for heart disease. Whether or not BiDil ushers in a new era of genetic-specific drugs, it highlights the importance of factoring racial differences into clinical trials.