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FASEB J. 2011 Jun;25(6):1788-92. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-0604ufm.

The power of Pasteur's quadrant: cardiovascular disease at the turn of the century.

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Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 2M1.


During the life span of The FASEB Journal, the decline in cardiovascular mortality was astonishing as the fundamental bases of the complex syndromes of cardiovascular disease were illuminated. In this Silver Anniversary Review, we highlight a few pivotal advances in the field and relate them to research in Pasteur's quadrant, the region of investigation driven by both a desire for fundamental understanding and the consideration of its use. In the second half of the 20th century, we advanced from little pathophysiologic understanding to a near-complete understanding and effective, evidence-based therapeutics for vascular disorders and a similar development of pharmacotherapy to address heart failure, primarily through agents that antagonize the excessive concentration of circulating neurohumoral agents. In the current era, we have witnessed "the rise of the machines," from stents to cardiac resynchronization therapy. The next wave of treatments will build on an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the molecular determinants of cardiovascular disorders. We briefly consider the promise of regenerative medicine and are intrigued by the possibility for the direct reprogramming of resident cardiac fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes. As for the future, genomic profiling should help physicians recommend individualized risk factor modification targeted to prevent specific manifestations of cardiovascular disease. Transcriptional and biomarker analyses will almost surely be used individually to tailor therapy for those at risk of or experiencing cardiovascular disease. Given the ongoing exponential expansion of scientific knowledge, all of human ingenuity will be needed to fully utilize the power of Pasteur's quadrant and to unleash another quarter century in cardiology as scientifically fruitful and effective on human health as the last.

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