New Therapeutic Approaches for Cardiovascular Disease

Science

Dr. Nazha Hamdani

Researchers at the cutting-edge Szeged-based Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) are taking on one of the biggest killers in the world today: heart failure.

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the Western world and Hungary. Not only does it shorten the lives of millions of people every year across the globe, but it also often burdens them with years spent in need of medical care.

HCEMM’s Cardiovascular Comorbidities group, under Dr. Nazha Hamdani’s leadership, seeks to tackle the problem of heart failure, a type of cardiovascular disease in which the heart fails to pump blood properly around the body and that hospitalizes more people in the Western world than any other condition.

As the cardiovascular system is directly involved with every organ, it is not surprising that its diseases in general, and heart failure in particular, are often connected to problems elsewhere in the body.

Hamdani’s team is currently focused on the role and mechanisms of inflammation and oxidative stress (chemical damage from air pollution, UV radiation, smoking, or alcohol consumption, among other factors), which are pivotal in the development of heart failure.

These conditions disrupt the communication between the small blood vessels which support the heart, the heart muscles, and the cells that maintain the structural framework of the heart. The result of this disrupted communication in some heart conditions is a stiffening of the heart muscle, which means the heart has to work harder to keep pumping the same amount of blood. This, eventually, leads to symptoms like shortness of breath or fatigue, which impact the quality of life even before heart failure becomes acutely life-threatening.

By better understanding this condition and how factors like age, sex, and comorbid conditions influence the development of the disease, Hamdani’s team aims to identify new therapeutic approaches that could not only be used to save lives but to make life more livable for many people affected with heart conditions.

About HCEMM

The Hungarian Center of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) is a so-called distributed institute whose scientists develop advanced diagnostics and treatment options to support healthy aging.

Currently, the HCEMM Program is funded by an H2020 Teaming Grant, where Semmelweis University, the University of Szeged, and the Biological Research Center in Szeged cooperate with their advanced partner, the intergovernmental European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, with headquarters in Heidelberg), a Thematic Excellence award, as well as a National Laboratory award from the Hungarian government via the National Research, Developments and Innovation Office.

The coordination of the various activities is managed by HCEMM Kft., with headquarters in Szeged. HCEMM works at the interface of academic and industrial research on translational medicine, a “bench-to-bedside” approach for developing new treatments. The goal is to improve the quality of life for an aging Hungarian population while at the same time lowering the cost of healthcare provision through novel applications in the field of molecular medicine.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of April 11, 2023.

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