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CRC 1123: Atherosclerosis - Mechanisms and networks of novel therapeutic targets

  • Speaker: Professor Dr. Christian Weber
  • Affiliation: Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention
  • Funding: since 2014

Despite advances in therapy, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in Western countries worldwide. They are mainly caused by atherosclerosis, in which deposits form in the arteries of the inner vascular wall, leading to chronic inflammation and constriction of the vessels. This can impede and eventually block blood flow, resulting in heart attacks and strokes.

In order to improve the prevention and therapy of arterial vascular diseases, a deeper understanding of the development and course of atherosclerosis is necessary. This is exactly where the new Collaborative Research Centre comes in: "We want to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis in detail and thus enable a more efficient and reliable identification and validation of possible therapeutic target structures," says Professor Christian Weber, Director of the Institute for Prophylaxis and Epidemiology of Circulatory Diseases at the LMU (IPEK) and spokesperson of the new Collaborative Research Centre (SFB).

Atherosclerotic inflammation develops over many years. It is caused by an out-of-control reaction of the immune system. Cells of the immune system migrate from the blood to the damaged site and produce signalling substances that call further immune cells to the site of the event. Finally, atherosclerotic plaques form, which constantly emit new signalling substances until the immune response derails and complications such as plaque rupture and thrombosis occur. Within the framework of the new SFB, various therapeutic options are being researched. Possible targets include chemokines, messenger substances that control the immune response and genetic causes. New imaging technologies and a number of transgenic and conditional knockout mouse models will be used to validate new therapeutic structures.

"The interdisciplinary approach of the Collaborative Research Centre 'Atherosclerosis' is crucial. We are concentrating on integral analyses and are investigating the relationships between metabolic processes, molecular signalling pathways and genetic factors," said Christian Weber. In addition to the medical faculty with several institutes (IPEK, Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research, Institute for Laboratory Medicine), the LMU also has a medical faculty. Medical Clinic and Polyclinic I for Cardiology, Medical Clinic and Polyclinic IV for Endocrinology), the Institute of Computer Science is also involved.

The new SFB will start its work on 1 October 2014 and will be funded with approximately 11 million euros until 2018. In addition to the LMU as the host university, the TU Munich, Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen and the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry are also involved.

Quelle: LMU