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Translational Training network on the Cellular and Molecular Bases of Heart Homeostasis and Repair

Final Report Summary - CARDIONET (Translational Training network on the Cellular and Molecular Bases of Heart Homeostasis and Repair)

The CardioNeT Network integrated 17 research groups from 8 academic institutions and 4 private companies distributed across 6 European countries, and was further supported by 2 associated partners.
The project integrated molecular and cellular biology approaches together with bioinformatics analysis, preclinical models and clinical data in order to aid the understanding of the regulation of heart development, homeostasis and disease.
During the 4-year duration of the project a total of 15 fellows in the early stage (ESR) of their career and 2 experienced researchers (ER) were receiving training in all areas of cardiovascular research.
The Network covered all aspects of cardiovascular training, from bioinformatics to preclinical research, being the principal S&T goals the following:

1. To identify the network of genes and proteins that act in combination to regulate cardiac development, homeostasis and heart failure at a molecular level.
2. To determine the specific contribution of the different cell populations involved in heart development and their role in the maintenance of adult heart homeostasis, failure and regeneration.
3. To explore novel approaches to achieve functional recovery from heart failure through regeneration of the damaged myocardium or reversal of adverse heart remodelling.
The major objective of CardioNet has been the definition of the functional integration and intersection points of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying heart development, homeostasis and repair, both in animal models and in humans. The results of the CardioNeT project integrate knowledge from the molecular biology, cell biology, genomics, heart development and cardiac regeneration fields to develop novel strategies to tackle heart disease. These results are expected to have a long-term impact on health. Considering that cardiovascular diseases are a main cause of both mortality and morbidity in the European Union, the development of new therapies have a strong impact on the Community. More importantly, the EU has a deficit in cardiovascular research training so we hope that CardioNeT has helped to compensate this deficit and contribute to the long term benefit of European cardiovascular research and hence the Union’s capacity to develop novel therapeutic strategies for heart disease.

During these four years, the work performed and the main results achieved so far have been developed under the research work packages activities.
WP1: Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying heart physiology and pathology. The molecular mechanisms involved in cardiac development and disease were studied in a variety of experimental models. As a result, the role of specific genes in these processes was identified and their integration into different regulatory mechanisms was unveiled.
WP2: Cellular basis of heart development and homeostasis in healthy and diseased conditions. The Network studied the contribution of different cell populations to the developing heart: description of the cell lineage relationships in the heart at successive stages, definition of the topological changes that tissues undergo during morphogenesis and characterization of the interactions between the cells that build the various structures.
WP3: Investigate the potential of new therapeutical strategies. Work was carried out towards enabling functional recovery of the heart after myocardial infarction through cardiac regeneration and repair. We studied the transcriptional and signalling events controlling progenitor cell development, inflammation, scar formation and recovery, and explored their therapeutic potential for the treatment of ischemic heart disease.

Meanwhile, the WP4, WP5 and WP6 were focused on cross subjects such as training, management and dissemination and exploitation respectively.
WP4: the tasks were carried out without any problems, covering all the scheduled training activities as well as the programmed secondments. This work package addressed three main points: research skills (both theoretical and technical), complementary skills and career development. Each of them was structured in local/ individual and network level.
WP5: Partner 1, CNIC coordinated the network and supervised the management issues along this period time. The decisions taken by the Supervisory Board (SB) were implemented and all the scientific and progress reports were submitted on time. The principal initiatives in terms of management during the Network were:
- Two amendments to GA: withdrawal of Cellartis and the use of the electronic-only signature
- Amendment to CA: reimbursement of the organizational costs to CNIC because of the Final meeting in London.