20 January 2012
New evidence found for prevention and cure of cardiovascular diseases
A French-American scientist supported by the European Union's Marie Curie Actions research fund has found new evidence strengthening the link between inflammation, a defensive reaction of the body, and cardiovascular diseases. Aksam Merched believes that his findings might lead to the development of innovative preventive and therapeutic strategies, which could ultimately bring a cure to atherosclerosis, a progressive condition caused by the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol which often leads to heart disease, the first cause of death in the US, and stroke.
'We have found out new faces of the inflammation process, novel ways of how this process contributes to the built up of plaques on arterial vessel walls, how it occurs and why, something that to date remained unclear,' says Aksam Merched.
'More than one and a half million Americans suffer a stroke or a heart attack every year,' comments the scientist. 'New solutions at both preventive and therapeutic level are needed; it has been years that we have been working to get some answers,' adds.
Merched, supported by €240,000 in EU funds during the last two years, will advance some more details of his research today at Destination Europe, a scientific conference organised by the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC) to promote EU research funding opportunities in the United States.
The link between inflammation and cardiovascular diseases is not new for the scientific community; Merched's research builds indeed on the work of other outstanding scientists coming from fields as diverse as biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology. Back in July 2011 he already shed new light on this relationship. He then confirmed, on the basis of some preliminary empirical studies, that high fat levels in blood sparked a real "civil war" in the body causing tissue inflammation and thickening of the artery walls. Now he has gone a step further. Merched's latest findings will be published by a renowned scientific journal in a few months. They are expected to be clinically validated shortly after.
Aksam Merched works at Bordeaux' National Institute of Scientific and Medical Research, in France, since September 2009, when he was awarded an EU grant on research.