Unmet medical needs in cardiovascular sub-populations – an opportunity for VCs?

Unmet medical needs in cardiovascular sub-populations 
– an opportunity for VCs? 

For the past 5 months we have had the pleasure of having Philip Brainin as intern at Sunstone Life Science Ventures. Apart from bringing valuable insights to our daily activities, he has conducted an in-depth analysis of the cardiovascular landscape in Europe.  

 In our recent study (https://bit.ly/3VmOK1M) we demonstrated that investments in cardiovascular diseases historically have had a high loss/success ratio. Moreover, a report from BIO (QLS Advisors) found that cardiovascular drug development has one of the longest development durations from phase I to NDA approval (mean 11.5 years). 

Does this indicate that cardiovascular investment cases are less attractive for VCs? 
– Not necessarily.  

Key findings from our analysis suggest that there may be hidden opportunities in cardiovascular subpopulations. We identified two populations that lack therapeutic approaches and at risk of rapid disease progression. 

 – Recurrent ischemia despite best care (3% of STEMIs). 5-year mortality rate: 50%. 

– Advanced atherosclerosis despite absence of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (15-30% of STEMIs). 20% higher mortality compared to patients with conventional risk factors.  

With high event rates and recurrent disease, these populations have a clear unmet medical need and offer enhanced opportunity to investigate underlying pathophysiology.  

From a VC perspective, could investigations in these populations help to accelerate drug discovery and execution of clinical trials? Let us know what you think or whether you see other ‘hidden’ opportunities in cardiovascular disease! 


– Clinical Development Success Rates and Contributing Factors 2011-2022. Report from Biotechnology, Innovation, Organization and Quantitative Life Sciences. February 2021, Informa UK Ltd. 

– Mortality and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients Presenting with Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction Despite No Standard Modifiable Risk Factors: Results From the SWEDEHEART Registry. Figtree et al, Journal of the American Heart Association, July 2022. 

– Characteristics and Outcomes of Early Recurrent Myocardial Infarction After Acute Myocardial Infarction. Nair et al, Journal of the American Heart Association, August 2021. 

What do you think?
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