Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Background of Dr. Norman Wong

This post is part of a 16 part series of posts taken from the transcript of an interview I (JL) conducted with Resverlogix (RVX.TO) co-founders Dr. Norman Wong (NW) and Donald McCaffrey (DM).

What follows is a lengthy and candid interview about the history of Resverlogix, recent events at the American Heart Association meetings, and future plans for the company.

I'll be publishing two interview segments a day so not all of the links may be active if you are viewing this near the end of March 28-April 5, 2011.

  1. Background of Dr. Norman Wong

  2. Early History of Resverlogix

  3. HDL Biology

  4. American Heart Association Meeting - 2010

  5. CETP History

  6. Importance of HDL Type

  7. AHA ASSERT Trial Response

  8. ALTs

  9. Investor Reaction

  10. The Next 2 Years

  11. David vs. Goliath

  12. Alzheimer's Therapy Potential

  13. Upcoming Assure Trial

  14. Volatility of Resverlogix

  15. Resverlogix is Expanding

  16. More on the sell-off

Part 1

JL: Dr. Wong, please tell me a bit about your background.

NW: I'm an endocrinologist. My role is to look after people with diabetes, lipid disorder, thyroid. So that's my medical background.

My research background actually began way before my medical background. In addition to my medical training, I am also a biochemist, and that's where I got started in doing research in relationship to ApoA-1 and HDL. Really the start of the project for where we are today began in 1983. So you can see how long it has taken us to get from just thoughts to the current project that we have today. In 1983, I started my fellowship after finishing my training in internal medicine. The endocrine fellowship is a subspecialty with Internal medicine being the major specialty, and a sub-subspecialty of endocrinology is lipid disorders.

JL: Lipid disorders, that's a huge deal.

NW: Yes. I mean, it's the biggest deal right now for LDL, HDL, sure.

JL: We eat too much food, and we're all fat.

DM: It has taken 27 years to go from his research to reality.

NW: To the pill.

DM: (Puts a bottle of pills is on the table.) 27 years it takes to get here. That's amazing.

NW: We didn't invent this overnight. This is 27 years of research that went into this. In '83, I started to look around at genes that were regulated by various hormones, and that's what an endocrinologist does. And little did I know that I was already working on ApoA-1, but I didn't know it back then. In 1983, we didn't have the technology. We didn't have the questions. We just knew that we were looking for things that responded to hormones, and hormones are little signaling molecules inside the body. When I came back to Calgary in 1987, after four years of fellowship, I was funded by the Canadian government and the Alberta government for my training.

So this thing that we were working on, this gene, after I returned back to Calgary, I sequenced it. Overnight, it was 99.9% homologous with ApoA-1. So overnight, we became an ApoA-1 and HDL lab. That's when Don and I met.

You can find this in the literature. It's published all over the place. And now, we were working with this gene, and my only interest was looking at these hormones that could drive this thing up. And it drove it up 20 fold. Guess what, (it was thyroid hormone) but you can't use thyroid hormones. It's toxic. If you give too much to a patient, they become hyperthyroid. Have you heard of Graves' disease. Remember Monty Python, the guy with the big eyes? He had Graves' disease. So, it's dangerous to give them that molecule. But that's where the first sort of thinking started. And then Don and I became business partners.