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Major Funding to Develop Materials to Regenerate Cardiac Tissue Following Heart Attacks

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 10:00am
B3C newswire

Irish led Advanced Materials for Cardiac Regeneration (AMCARE) brings together ten European industry and academic partners to tackle the number one cause of death globally

Major new EU funding for research into heart disease was announced today by a group led by RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and AMBER. The AMCARE (Advanced Materials for CArdiac REgeneration) consortium involves ten partners from five European countries and has received €8.7 million in total funding (€6.8 million direct EU contribution) as part of the European Union's Framework Programme 7, Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies.

The AMCARE programme, which will create ten new positions, will carry out research to develop natural materials and new surgical devices to enhance the delivery of the body’s own stem cells to the heart to promote healing after a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and prevent premature death. The therapies being developed will replace heart cells that die due to the reduced blood flow that occurs during a heart attack, with new healthy cells derived from stem cells that come from the patient’s own bone marrow. 

The European Society of Cardiology estimates that one in every six men and one in every seven women in Europe will die from a myocardial infarction and according to the Irish Heart Foundation, approximately 10,000 people die in Ireland every year from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) including heart disease, stroke and other circulatory diseases. The most common cause of death in Ireland (33%), CVD is the number one cause of death globally, killing an estimated 17 million people each year according to World Health Organisation.

AMCARE is co-ordinated by Dr. Garry Duffy, Department of Anatomy and Tissue Engineering Research Group, RCSI and AMBER Investigator. AMBER (Advanced Materials for Bioengineering Research), the newly established Science Foundation Ireland funded research centre will lead specific tasks in the consortium, tackling surgical device design, nanotechnology safety and drug delivery.

Dr. Garry Duffy commented on the research funding: ‘We are delighted to lead the AMCARE programme and to translate new collaborative research for the benefit of patients with heart disease. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of patients who have suffered a heart attack, and through AMCARE we will develop new technologies to enhance stem cell therapies for these patients by increasing targeting and ease of delivery using advanced biomaterials.’  

The AMCARE Consortium represents a major interdisciplinary effort between stem cell biologists, experts in advanced drug delivery, research scientists, clinicians and research-active companies working together to develop novel therapeutics to address the challenges of treating acute heart disease. The researchers will optimise adult stem cell therapy using smart biomaterials and advanced drug delivery, and couple these therapeutics with minimally-invasive surgical devices.

RCSI researchers involved in the consortium include Dr Helena Kelly (Deputy Co-ordinator) and Professor Sally-Ann Cryan, RCSI School of Pharmacy and will work with Drs Garry Duffy, Bruce Murphy and Adriele Prina-Mello from AMBER.  

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research at RCSI said: ‘RCSI’s leadership of the AMCARE consortium builds on the College’s expertise in regenerative medicine and industrial collaboration.  This new programme will help accelerate the development of new treatments for the benefit of patients, in keeping with our strategy of bench to bedside translational research.’

The programme is an SME (Small Medium Enterprise) targeted collaborative project and the consortium members include a number of European SMEs; AdjuCor GmbH (Germany), Cardio3Biosciences (Belgium), Contipro (Czech Republic), Explora BioTech (Italy), INNOVA (Italy). In addition the consortium includes a number of other leading academic institutions; Trinity College Dublin, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology and the Eberhard Karls Universitat Tübingen in Germany and the multinational company Boston Scientific based in Galway, Ireland.

The project, which has received €6.8 million direct EU contribution, is funded by the European Union's ‘Seventh Framework' Programme (FP7/ http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html ) under Grant Agreement n°NMP3-SME-2013-604531 from November 2013 to October 2018.

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