New treatment target for atheroschlerosis discovered

Cardiovascular system

Scientists at the University of Bristol have uncovered a new disease driving mechanism which they are aiming to target to help treat the development of atherosclerotic plaques.

The project to develop the new therapeutic, known as IMSET, is being led by Professor Jason Johnson, Professor of Cardiovascular Pathology within the Bristol Medical School.

Following successful initial testing, the team have been awarded substantial funding through the beLAB1407 BRIDGE partnership to continue developing the new therapeutic.

Professor Johnson has been studying atherosclerosis, a condition where the build-up of fatty deposits (atherosclerotic plaques) in arteries can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease.

Investigating how monocytes/macrophages contribute to the formation of these fatty plaques within arteries, the researchers have discovered that these cells can exist in different forms and there are particular macrophages which drive the development of the plaques.

Professor Johnson explained: “Looking within these bad macrophages, we’ve identified a certain genetic target we have termed IMSET, which is a central regulator of their behaviour. This unique award will allow us to develop a therapeutic to target this novel non-coding RNA, and validate its use in patients with heart disease.”

“Together with beLAB1407, we aim to develop a new treatment regime that could play a significant role in reducing one of the key factors in cardiovascular diseases.”

The new treatment is anticipated to be able to help patients who are present at the hospital having survived a heart attack or stroke.

This patient population is at an increased risk of a further heart attack or stroke, and a drug targeting IMSET could help prevent recurrent cardiovascular diseases that underlie the majority of associated deaths in the UK and globally.

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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