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Collaborative research centre on cardiac diseases to receive further funding

The German Research Foundation (DFG) will continue to fund the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre “SFB Transregio 19” “Inflammatory Cardiomyopathy – Molecular Pathogenesis and Therapy” for another four years with a total of 10 million euros. The Department of Cardiology of the University Hospital of Tübingen will also become part of the SFB.

Inflammations of the heart muscle are among frequently occurring cardiac diseases and can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease characterised by restricted cardiac function and dilatation of the left and right ventricle. Recent investigations have shown that inflammation of the heart muscle and/or viral infections (inflammatory cardiomyopathy) are among the most frequent causes of DCM.
Prof. Meinrad Gawaz, Medical Director of the Department of Cardiology at the University Hospital in Tübingen (Photo: UKT)
Since 2004 scientists from Berlin, Greifswald and Tübingen have been working together on the investigation of inflammatory cardiomyopathy. In Germany, at least 500,000 people suffer from this disease. Prof. Meinrad Gawaz, Medical Director of the Department of Cardiology at the University Hospital in Tübingen comments: “Due to the huge clinical importance of this disease, there is an urgent need to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.” Recent investigations have shown that, besides coronary heart disease, DCM is the most common cause of cardiac insufficiency.”

“The disease mainly occurs in people between thirty and fifty years old and is associated with the enlargement of the two ventricles, which thereby prevents the heart from pumping blood efficiently. This leads to decreased heart function and eventually results in cardiac insufficiency.” The disease is often associated with viral infections. Initial signs of the disease are breathlessness brought on by physical effort, for example when going upstairs. Other characteristics include the accumulation of water in the lungs or legs, cardiac arrhythmia, tiredness, dizziness, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest. Prof. Meinrad Gawaz: “Despite the frequency of the disease there are still no effective therapies available for DCM patients. Progress in basic and clinical research is therefore called for.”

The Department of Cardiology at the University of Tübingen is a new member of the SFB

The SFB deals with the investigation of the concrete causes of inflammatory cardiomyopathy on the cellular and molecular level. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kandolf, Medical Director of the Department of Molecular Pathology at the Institute of Pathology in Tübingen comments: “We are hoping to characterise the virus-host interactions and are confident that we will be able to develop effective therapies. We are international leaders in the field of inflammatory cardiomyopathy, particularly in cardiopathological diagnostics, research into the causes of DCM and the development of new therapeutic strategies. That’s why the German Research Foundation granted us the SFB, a collaborative research project bringing together the Department of Cardiology as well as theoretical disciplines from the Institute of Physiology (Prof. Dr. Florian Lang), the Institute of Immunology (Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Rammensee, Prof. Dr. Stephan Stevanovic).

The “SFB Transregio 19” brings together university hospitals as well as university and non-university research institutions in Berlin, Greifswald and Tübingen.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/collaborative-research-centre-on-cardiac-diseases-to-receive-further-funding