"Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still a leading cause of death in the European Union (EU) accounting for nearly half of all deaths in Europe (48%). In addition, CVD complications lead to a vast number of hospitalizations and thus to a great burden of health care costs in the EU. Atherosclerosis and its final complication, plaque rupture and subsequent infarct in heart or brain, is the main underlying pathology of CVD and atherosclerosis is responsible for 70% of all cases of CVD. Extensive studies into the pathology of atherosclerosis show that its etiology is found in a combination of dyslipidemia and a related inflammatory response with an established autoimmune component, while the major cause of acute CVD events, plaque rupture, due to an inflammatory destabilization of the atherosclerotic lesion. CVD is therefore an autoimmune-like disease in the context of a metabolic disease. Thus far, therapeutic approaches in CVD have been focused at normalizing dyslipidemia in order to lower plasma cholesterol. Statins and additional surgical approaches such as angioplasty have achieved a 30% risk reduction for CVD during the last 10-15 years. However, additional approaches to improve the treatment of dyslipidemia by for instance improving the level of the anti-atherogenic lipoprotein HDL have failed in a number of clinical trials. This implicates that new therapeutic approaches are urgently needed to narrow down the remaining 70% risk for CVD. We aim to develop a new immunomodulatory treatment, a therapeutic vaccine that permanently restores the immune balance within the arterial wall by inhibiting the inflammatory responses during atherosclerosis. The VIA consortium aims to develop a vaccine, dissect the immune pathways underlying the beneficial effect of the vaccine, optimize the vaccine, test its safety and perform a phase I clinical trial using the atheroprotective vaccine. The vaccine is foreseen to result in a substantial lowering of the risk for CVD."
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project