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Though their businesses are fraught with risk, drug development and medical device companies are considered a plum in the world of economic development. Life sciences businesses are known for paying well, especially their scientific employees, and must raise large sums of money for everything from animal studies to clinical trials on humans. Because of the expense of developing new drugs, small shops that have promising medications in the lab often forge research-and-development relationships with big pharmaceutical companies. A trio of local companies, based in Dallas-Fort Worth or with strong ties to the region, have landed significant funding… While ZS Pharma, LoneStar Heart and Peloton Therapeutics are having early success, DFW still faces a long, uncertain road in building a cluster of life sciences companies, experts say. There is a wide spread between metropolitan areas with the most life science-related employment and the rest of the field. For instance, in 2006, the most recent year for which data were available, the New York/northern New Jersey area led the country with 221,798 people employed in the biopharmaceutical industry, according to a study by Archstone Consulting LLC. The document did not include North Texas, but did say that the Houston metro area had about 15,697 people in its biopharma industry at the time.