From science to clinical practice
Medication and change of lifestyle help to prevent deterioration of the heart in a patient suffering from heart failure, but actively repairing the heart tissue restores functioning of the heart. Biomaterials can help to achieve this.
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In the Netherlands alone there are almost a million patients suffering from heart and vascular diseases such as heart failure, aneurism, stroke and congenital heart disease. For heart failure alone, nearly 200,000 people are affected and that has a high impact on their quality of life. The scar tissue formed on the heart muscle after a heart attack affects the pumping function of the heart. This is an irreversible process. Fortunately, due to the improved care, many people survive a heart attack, but the chronic problems after a heart attack are highly underestimated. A couple of years ago very much was expected of stem cell therapy, but this research has not yet lived up to the expectations. Simply injecting stem cells in the heart does not help. The combination with biomaterials to improve homing, survival and integration of the cells reintroduced in the heart will give better results. This is one of the objectives tackled by some of the BMM projects.
The Netherlands Heart Foundation
is involved in the funding of several of the BMM cardiovascular projects. For the Netherlands Heart Foundation, the patient is the one that should benefit most from the outcome of the BMM project. It is therefore important to look ahead further than the four or five years that the present projects take. After that period the pre-clinical research may be finished but the proof of concept in patients still has to be done and it may take several years after the end of the project before the results can be applied in the clinic.