A short summary

Diabetes and heart disease are no. 1 killers – experts call it "cardio-metabolic risk"

Cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke will kill at least half of our population. Metabolic disorders promote the development of atherosclerosis leading to reduced perfusion of vital organs such as heart and brain.

Diabetes and the "metabolic syndrome" are major metabolic derangement strongly enhancing the risk to suffer heart disease, renal dysfunction, blindness, pain and amputation in a rapidly growing number of people. Obesity centered on the belly is not only the basis of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but also brings forth heart disease and stroke. Hence, experts speak of "cardio-metabolic risk" in individuals predisposed to diabetes and heart disease.

Surely, cardio-metabolic disease will make up for horrifying increase in health care expenses within the next decades and preventing cardio-metabolic disease has become a major goal of biomedical research.


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Diabetes/CV risk, Obesity epidemic

Diabetes/CV risk, Obesity epidemic

WC Willett N Engl J Med 1999;341:427-34

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Inflammation is the common soil to metabolic and cardiovascular disease.

The strong coincidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease poses the important question: Do these metabolic and cardiovascular diseases have key mechanisms in common?

Diabetes and heart attacks are in fact inflammatory diseases. Circulating inflammatory markers significantly correlate with the development of diabetes and heart attacks. Moreover, relevant tissues such as fat (adipose) tissue, liver and vessel walls are subject to inflammatory changes early in the development of obesity and atherosclerotic changes.  Inflammatory changes may be triggered by unfavorable fats such as cholesterol and saturated fats, but even effective cholesterol-lowering only reduces heart disease by one third and stroke even less. However, recent anti-inflammatory drug showed promise to reduce disease. This makes us confident, that interference with the action of crucial inflammatory molecules will be key to prevent diabetes and heart disease in individuals at risk.

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Immunisation is a potent strategy to target inflammatory diseases

Targeting inflammatory molecules is a life-long measure to reduce cardio-metabolic risk. Drugs taken by mouth could accomplish such a task but adherence to therapy by patients is low, some molecules cannot be targeted by small molecules that can be delivered by the gastro-intestinal tract, and biological molecules with highly specific effects are very expensive.

Immunisation is a highly specific and cost-saving strategy to neutralize selected molecules. Immunisation techniques have been developed to result in antibody responses only – without inducing any inflammatory reaction. Immunisation is given by the physician or nurse hence providing a means for controlling patient compliance and preventive efficacy. Just as being used for the prevention of infectious diseases by eliciting neutralizing antibodies agaings specific surface molecules of infective agents, immunisation can be used to target body’s own detrimental molecules. 

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Developing immunisation to prevent diabetes and heart attacks

The CD-Laboratory for Cardio-Metabolic ImmunoTherapy develops immunisation strategies to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Key molecules of inflammation in metabolic organs and the vessel wall are identified, followed by designing immunisation strategies to interefere with their function. Distinct methods are applied together with our industry partner AFFiRiS AG, Vienna, to modulate target sequences in order to elicit a pure antibody response in the host.

This endeavour comprises an intensive research program over a period of seven years. The CD lab for Cardio-Metabolic ImmunoTherapy has started on June 1st, 2011.

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