Brussels, 30 Sep 2003
To mark world heart day on 28 September, the Commission has published details of two large projects currently under negotiation, which are seeking to build the critical mass needed in the field of cardio vascular research.
In the last four years, under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), the European Commission provided 35.5 million euro in contributions to a total of 24 projects in the field of cardio vascular research. As a further commitment to this field of research, two projects, an Integrated Project and a Network of Excellence, with an anticipated EU contribution of more than 17 million euro, are now under negotiation.
Commenting on the projects, EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said that there has never been such an acute need to better understand the causes of heart disease and to develop innovative treatments for cardiovascular disease. 'Cardiovascular disease brings suffering and premature death to many Europeans, and represents a burden for families and the health care system,' said the Commissioner. 'Many forms of heart disease are preventable by changes in life style - such as stopping smoking. But ageing also plays a role, and as the European population is getting older, the incidence of heart disease is increasing, even if progress has been and continues to be made in the treatment. That is why further research is needed.'
The first project under negotiation is an Integrated Project addressing the genomics of atherothrombosis in coronary artery disease. In particular, genetic factors modulating platelet aggregation will be analysed in large patient populations. It is expected that this research will lead to the development of markers that can help identify patients at risk of thrombotic events. It will also offer insight into novel molecular targets for the development of medicines. It is hoped that such medicines will help prevent or treat inadequate thrombosis.
The second project, a Network of Excellence, will seek to consolidate research efforts in the field of vascular research. Research teams will focus on the following areas: defects in the function of the lining of blood vessels; the instability of so-called plaques - a deposit of fatty material on the inner lining of an arterial wall which can lead to thrombosis when released; and therapy aimed at the growth of new blood vessels, and which can help recover damaged heart tissue.