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Grant for potential new heart drug

Cardiologist in training Dr. Fatih Arslan of the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht has been awarded a grant of 250,000 euros by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI). The grant is intended to aid Arslan in setting up a spin-off initiative. The grant is a Pre-Seed Grant that falls under the Life Sciences Valorization Program.

Arslan is searching for treatment that will speed up recovery following a heart attack (infarct) and that can prevent heart failure. After a heart attack, the body’s immune system is activated by certain proteins. Some proteins trigger harmful activity which then hinders recovery. Arslan has been able to identify one of these proteins. It is possible that subsequent blocking of this protein will improve the heart’s recovery following an infarct.

Arslan has found the first indications to back up this theory. At present he is developing an antibody that blocks the protein. If large-scale studies conducted on animals show that the antibody is safe and works well, then trials in humans can be started.

Arslan has applied for a patent on this idea with support from UMC Utrecht Holding BV. The Pre-Seed Grant will enable Arslan to set up a spin-off initiative so that his findings can be further developed into a clinical application. Such a spin-off initiative is important for attracting new participants and funding. And that will ultimately be crucial for the further development of the clinical application.

Long way to go
“The NGI grant means that this research will turn into more than just an exciting scientific finding,” says Dr. Fatih Arslan. “The Pre-Seed grant means that we can take the first steps towards a clinical application. But there’s still a long way to go.”

Each year, more than 1.5 million people in Europe and the United States suffer from heart failure following an infarct. Heart failure is a debilitating illness with a very poor prognosis. About twenty percent of patients die within the first year and by five years about fifty percent will have died.
28 February 2012