The first vaccine against atherosclerosis is not far away in the future, according to Jan Nilsson, professor of Experimental Cardiology at Lunds Universitet in Malmö (Sweden) and EVGN member. Human clinical trials are likely to begin at the end of next year: they will be aimed at verifying the safety of a preparation, still under investigation in a laboratory model, made of antibodies obtained against selected fragments of oxidized Low Density Lipoproteins, or oxLDLs. LDLs are the major component of the “bad cholesterol”: their accumulation in the arterial wall causes inflammation and is a key factor in the onset of atherosclerosis.
The ability of oxidized LDL to trigger an immune response in the body was recognized a decade ago. Studies revealed that these particles can induce an autoimmune response: a response of the body against itself. But they also revealed that the immunization with oxLDL particles reduces the development of atherosclerosis hampering the deposition of atherosclerotic plaques. “Early as they were, these data prompted the scientists to consider vaccination as a feasible option not only for infectious diseases but also for atherosclerosis. And recent evidence confirming the involvement of the immune system in cardiovascular disease has strengthened the idea” says Nilsson, who has a long standing experience in studying atherosclerosis and the immune system.
Setting up a vaccine is not easy: the mechanism of action of the compounds is often unknown, and the reactions in a human being could be different from those observed in a laboratory model. Besides, not all the parts (or epitopes) of an immunogenic molecule trigger the same immune response. “We knew that oxidation alters the external structure of LDLs, but didn’t know which epitope was the most effective. So we tested several fragments (peptides) derived from the protein that stick on the surface of LDLs (apoB100), alone and in combination, to determine their efficacy on atherosclerosis”. What the scientists found was that a single fragment, and not the mix, exerted the strongest effect on the inflammation that surrounds the atherosclerotic plaques. “The injection of this fragment (a procedure called active immunization) triggered the production of antibodies, which determined the reduction of the atherosclerotic lesions up to 70% and the stabilization/regression of the plaques”.
These results induced the scientists to speculate that the direct administration (passive immunization) of an antibody against ApoB100 could be effective as well. So Nilsson and his team developed human antibodies with high affinity for apoB100 fragments, and proved that they can significantly reduce the atherosclerosis in a mouse model.
But what could happen in a human being? The mechanism of action of these antibodies is still unclear, and uncertainties remain on the activation of unwanted inflammatory responses. “We are aware that some points still need to be clarified. However, we expect to obtain the answers within a year, before moving into man” admits Nilsson.
Today, the most common treatment for atherosclerosis are statins. Unfortunately, these drugs do not directly affect oxLDLs, and a high percentage of patients who are treated with statins may still undergo a heart attack or stroke. The research strategy pursued by Nilsson and colleagues could therefore benefit high-risk individuals for whom the conventional treatments do not provide adequate protection.
The European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN) is the first Network of excellence on cardiovascular disease funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme "Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health" (Contract Number: LSHM-CT-2003-503254).
The Conference is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Laboratoires SERVIER.
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences