After a heart attack: Recognising healing in the image and treating specifically
Leducq Foundation funds a new research network with 5.9 million euros
Hannover Medical School (MHH) is involved in an international research network that is investigating the interplay of inflammation and fibrosis after a heart attack in greater detail and thereby aims to contribute to personalised treatment approaches. The Leducq Foundation, based in France, is funding the project for five years with 5.9 million euros. „The ‚Immuno-Fib‘ research network aims to advance the field of immune cardiology and to investigate how the body’s own immune system can contribute to improving the treatment of patients with heart disease,“ emphasises Professor Dr. Frank Bengel, Director of the MHH Clinic for Nuclear Medicine, whose research group is involved in the network. The project with working groups from St. Louis, Philadelphia, Bar Harbor, London, Aachen, Heidelberg and MHH started on 1 January 2021.
Better understanding of key components in the development of common heart diseases
Carefully regulated inflammatory and fibrosis processes are decisive for a good healing process after a heart attack. However, if there is an excess of inflammation in the damaged heart tissue or too much storage of connective tissue – a fibrosis – this can cause the heart to change unfavourably after the infarction and become less efficient.
The researchers have set themselves the following priorities: They want to better understand the interplay between inflammatory cells and connective tissue-producing cells (fibroblasts) and identify different groups of fibroblasts in the heart. With the help of positron emission tomography (PET), the team wants to image inflammation and fibrosis after a heart attack better and more gently for the patients. This is a long-standing focus of Professor Bengel’s research group, in which he works very closely with the team from Professor Dr. Johann Bauersachs‘ MHH Clinic for Cardiology.
After all, the network is also supposed to be about improved treatments. The scientists are considering the use of fibrosis-dissolving immune cells, so-called CAR-T cells, as a possible treatment, which have so far been more familiar in tumour medicine. In this process, the body’s own immune cells are modified in a genetic engineering procedure so that they can recognise and fight certain harmful cells – including an excess of fibroblasts.
About the Leducq Foundation
The Leducq Foundation’s mission is to improve human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease and stroke. Based in France, the Foundation supports Transatlantic Networks of Excellence in Cardiovascular and Neurovascular Research to strengthen internationally collaborative basic and translational research. Scientists supported in this programme work together to advance knowledge of cardiovascular and neurovascular disease and improve outcomes for patients.
For more information (in English) about the project: https://www.fondationleducq.org/network/the-inflammatory-fibrosis-axis-in-ischemic-heart-failure-translating-mechanisms-into-new-diagnostics-and-therapeutics/
Professor Bengel can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org , or by phone (0511) 532-2578.