The German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) are supporting a joint German-British project.
A support programme initiated by the DZHK and the BHF will receive 2.4 million euros. The members of the group aim to improve the clinical diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
The title of the project is “Genetic discovery-based targeting of the vascular interface in atherosclerosis”.The research is focused on what effect human genes have on the risk of suffering from a heart condition. Studies involving groups of people both with and without heart conditions have identified changes in the DNA code that appear more frequently in the case of patients and thus heighten the risk of illness. Genetic changes that influence the blood vessels and the vessel walls are being investigated in particular.
The scientists will combine innovative, computer-aided and experimental laboratory-based methods to examine some of these genes in detail. They then want to understand how exactly the risk of illness is influenced. The acquired knowledge will later be used to inform new treatment methods.
The following researchers are involved in the programme: Prof. Heribert Schunkert (German Heart Centre Munich), Prof. Christian Weber (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), Prof. Shu Ye (University of Leicester), Prof. John Danesh (University of Cambridge), Prof. Hugh Watkins (University of Oxford) and Prof. Jeanette Erdmann (Institute for Cardiogenetics at the University of Lübeck). Alongside the Institute for Cardiogenetics, the University of Lübeck is also represented in the project by the Institute of Neurogenetics with the Platform for Applied Stem Cell Biology, led by Prof. Philip Seibler. The Director of the Institute is Prof. Christine Klein.
“We were delighted to receive notification of funding,” says Prof. Jeanette Erdmann, research coordinator on the German side. “The project that is now being funded is building on more than ten years of very successful cooperation between Lübeck, Munich, Oxford, and Leicester. The foundation for the project was particularly laid by the two EU consortiums ‘Cardiogenics’ and ‘CVgenes@target’, which were coordinated by the University of Lübeck.”
The great opportunity for this consortium lies in the combination of cutting-edge computer-aided methods, laboratory methods such as iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells), and “genetic scissors” used for the targeted editing of genes. Pluripotent stem cells are capable of developing into almost all of the body’s cell types. This is where collaboration with the Institute of Neurogenetics comes into play. “The ‘Applied Stem Cell Biology’ Section will supply us with induced pluripotent stem cells, which we will re-programme in cells that line the vessel wall and then characterise according to function. We hope that this will help us to obtain new insights into the role of the vessel wall in heart attacks and thus, in the long-term, new therapeutic objectives.”
University of Lübeck
Prof. Dr. Jeanette Erdmann
Institute for Cardiogenetics
Lübeck University Heart Centre
Telephone: +49 451-3101 8300