IRONHEART: fruitful research

The IRONHEART research group of the UD has discovered a new molecule from which a drug can be prepared for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. This is one of the outstanding achievements of the now-completed four-year series of research.

More than 130 medical professionals participated in the IRONHEART program.

In Hungary, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and one of the most important risk factors for worsening quality of life. This explains why the program was primarily aimed at exploring new prevention and treatment options.

– Our research network brought one of the international centres of vascular and cardiovascular diseases to the University of Debrecen. The complexity of the program is indicated by the fact that it covers the problems of patients of all ages, starting from the vascular diseases of the premature infants to those of the elderly, very seriously ill people. Our project is unique because it analysed relationships based on the joint application of basic research and clinical trials. It is also special because, in a unique way in the country, our programs operated in geographical proximity, facilitating the joint work of theoretical institutes and clinics – György Balla, university professor, professional leader of the project explained at the closing event on Monday.

One of the major results of the four years’ IRONHEART program is that experts have found a new molecule (BGP-15) from which a drug can be made in the future. Clinical trials are already underway and the results are convincing.

-The drug molecule has already proved to be safe in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias based on human clinical trials, and we hope to be able to investigate it soon in the form of diastolic heart failure. The IRONHEART program has enriched science with a drug molecule in an area with not even effective drug candidates. This is also a huge value for the University of Debrecen as well as cardiovascular science – emphasized university professor Zoltán Csanádi, head of the arrhythmia sub-program.

The research team also achieved outstanding results in improving quality of life in patients with chronic kidney disease, stroke patients, and chronic cardiovascular complications caused by Covid-19. Oncology was also a sub-program of the IRONHEART program. The vascular system of human tumors aggressively promotes growth and the development of metastases. In this context, the researchers also studied the destruction of the blood vessels feeding the tumors and the inhibition of vascular development. In the four-year program, modern laboratory procedures and methods have also been developed, which can become part of everyday routine diagnostics.

The IRONHEART consortium consisted of 11 research groups, two academics and nine MTA doctors led the sub-programs. The project employed more than 130 professionals and produced about 100 international, high-quality scientific papers.

Professional leaders also considered it important to educate young scientists. Therefore, they participated in both undergraduate and postgraduate training, and outstanding young researchers will continue to be employed at the university, providing them with a researcher career model.

The program was implemented with a non-refundable grant of HUF 1.2 billion, within the framework of the “Heart and Vascular Research Center of Excellence – IRONHEART” (GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00043) tender.

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