REANIMA: towards the new horizon of cardiac regeneration

In 10 years we will be able to erase the marks of a heart attack.

Image: Neonatal mouse heart when it still has regeneration capacity. 
Credits: CNIC

Many of us have seen in recent superhero movies, some characters with the ability to regenerate their bodies against wounds that should be fatal. The obsession with regenerating our bodies and healing our wounds is already present in ancient times when this ability was granted to the Gods. It is even present in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And despite this, it has always been something that has remained in the field of mythology. Something we knew was impossible. Until now.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. The associated heart failure is a worldwide epidemic that imposes a substantial societal burden in death, disease, and escalating economic costs and can only be resolved by heart transplantation. So, whereas to obtain fantastic results we must do a fantastic science. We have created REANIMA  (New generation cardiac therapeutic strategies directed to the activation of endogenous regenerative mechanisms), a research program coordinated by Dr. Miguel Torres at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) and supported by €8 million funding over five years, of which €1,380,000 will be directly managed at the CNIC.

Fish and amphibians are capable of regenerating the heart and, although mammals were traditionally considered not to have this ability, it has recently been shown that the damaged heart can regenerate in newborn mice. Unfortunately, in adult mammals, including humans, the regenerative capacity of the heart is residual and insufficient to recover its function naturally. At  ZeClinics, we will work on the part that involves studying, analyzing, and thoroughly describing the regeneration mechanisms present in zebrafish to transfer them to humans.

REANIMA is also the first integrated European essential translation effort in the field of cardiac regeneration, with activities ranging from the discovery of new objectives in animal models to the design of clinical trials. Also, it is the first Europe-wide project to integrate essential research findings to transform them into medical applications in the field of cardiac regeneration. In addition to the Spanish CNIC, the coordinating institute, another 11 European centers participate in this innovative project: Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany); King's College London (United Kingdom); University of Bern (Switzerland); Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) (Austria); Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel); Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (the Netherlands); Ethris GMBH (Germany); ZeClinics SL (Spain); German Primate Center (Germany); Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Italy); and Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI (Germany).

REANIMA is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement nº 874764.
 

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