Universiteit Leiden

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1 million to halt atherosclerosis progression

Treating atherosclerosis with an anti-inflammatory drug. Amanda Foks receives €499.987,00 from the Dutch Heart Foundation to investigate this over the next few years. She will join forces with Tian Zhao from the University of Cambridge. Together they receive 1 million for the research project.

Chest pain, heart attacks or strokes. Atherosclerosis is the major cause of these cardiovascular events. Therefore Amanda Foks is very happy with this funding. ‘Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death worldwide. Research into novel therapies to treat atherosclerosis is therefore of utmost importance. We are very happy with this funding and are excited to initiate this international research collaboration!’

Researching an anti-inflammatory drug

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fatty plaques inside the walls of arteries. Scientists know that the immune system over-reacts to atherosclerosis, causing inflammation within arteries that makes the plaques grow. But there are no treatments that can calm this inflammation. This is why Amanda Foks and Tian Zhao want to know more about the effects of an anti-inflammatory drug called interleukin-2, which has already shown promise in early trials involving heart attack patients.

Preclinical studies of the researchers have shown that interleukin-2 treatment can increase anti-inflammatory cells that reduce atherosclerosis. ‘In this research project, we will investigate how these anti-inflammatory cells affect inflammation in the fatty plaques. Next, we will investigate whether a cutting-edge version of this drug can dampen inflammation within plaques and can halt the progression of atherosclerosis.’

The study will run for the next four years. The researchers hope to eventually demonstrate that anti-inflammatory treatment with interleukin-2 can slow, or even stop, atherosclerosis progression.

The Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting) is working with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (DZHK) on funding opportunities. Through this international funding programme, the organisations aim to enable research that cannot be carried out at the national level.

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