Periodic Reporting for period 1 - microCardio (Functional high-throughput analysis of the role of microRNAs in cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury)
Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28
The main goal of this project was to identify microRNAs which modulate cardiac fibrosis and characterise the molecular mechanisms underlying their function. Particular emphasis was put in studying how miRNAs modulate cardiac fibroblasts’ proliferation and differentiation, and extracellular matrix deposition. This was achieved through gain-of-function high-throughput screenings using genome-wide microRNA libraries in the presence or absence of a stimulus for extracellular matrix deposition. The identification and characterisation of the molecular targets of the selected microRNAs is underway and will entail a combination of computational and experimental approaches.
This project used innovative experimental approaches to unravel a previously unappreciated network of microRNAs and microRNA targets critical to cardiac fibrosis, which may reveal novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention, with important clinical implications.
These results were presented by the fellow at the Keystone’s symposium on RNA-Based Approaches in Cardiovascular Disease held in March 2017 at Keystone Resort, Colorado, USA. A manuscript is being prepared for publication. Furthermore, throughout the duration of the project, the fellow participated in several outreach activities, namely in the European Researcher’s Night and in the Science and Technology week where she visited secondary schools to present her work.
This project addressed one of the societal challenges objectives (SC1 – Health, demographic changes and wellbeing; HCO13-2015: ERA-NET) in the Horizon 2020 programme and one of the goals in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goal 3.4. By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and wellbeing), by studying how miRNAs modulate cardiac fibrosis, a process associated to many cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death worldwide. The results obtained during this project are highly innovative and may constitute the basis for the development of novel RNA-based therapeutic approaches for cardiac fibrosis.
Furthermore, this fellowship allowed the fellow to return to her home country and contribute to the development of research in molecular cardiology and RNA biology. It also enabled her to acquire the necessary tools and contacts to transition into a career in science management.