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i3S joins European project for the prevention, diagnosis and monitoring of cardiovascular diseases

The European project “CARE-IN-HEALTH”, whose Portuguese partners are i3S and INESC-TEC, was recently financed with seven million euros by the Horizon Europe Program of the European Commission. The project will last five years and involves ten European partners, and aims to develop and test technological tools for the prevention, diagnosis, and monitoring of cardiovascular diseases.

Coordinated by the French Institute of Health and Medical Research - Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale (INSERM) - CARE-IN-HEALTH focuses on one of the main causes of death and morbidity worldwide: cardiovascular disease (CVD). In Europe alone, CVDs are responsible for 1.9 million deaths per year and the costs associated with treating these diseases are estimated to be 200 billion euros. “It is a public health problem that has been very difficult to control and, above all, to prevent, not only because of unhealthy lifestyle habits, but also because cardiovascular risk reduction therapies, which aim to prevent the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries, seriously compromise the immune system”, explain the researchers of the two institutes.

Bearing in mind that high blood lipid levels are directly associated with the health-cardiovascular disease transition, as they trigger chronic inflammation that increases the risk of several cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and stroke, CARE-IN-HEALTH proposes to develop new prevention strategies based precisely on the reduction of this inflammation.

The i3S team, which will receive 788 thousand euros in funding, is coordinated by researcher Inês Mendes Pinto and has the participation of researchers João Relvas, Miguel Neves, and Paulo Aguiar. The mission of i3S in this project, explains Inês Mendes Pinto, “is to develop a portable technology (CARE-IN-HEALTH BIOSENSOR) to monitor the resolution of inflammation in a minimally invasive way through a small volume of blood”.

The INESC-TEC team, coordinated by researcher João Paulo Cunha, professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, with the participation of researcher Duarte Dias, will bring to the project its long experience in advanced biosignal processing and development of medical devices. portable. The project has allocated around 340 thousand euros to INESC-TEC and the researchers will support the interconnection of the biosensor in a mobile application and in a cloud system in order to monitor inflammatory biomarkers and integrate this information with other clinical parameters in order to assess disease risk.

“This project will be an excellent opportunity for us to put our advanced knowledge in the design and development of portable medical devices at the service of a biosensor technology with the potential to disrupt the future of cardiovascular disease management”, says João Paulo Cunha.

Within the scope of CARE-IN-HEALTH, a collection of epidemiological, multi-economic and immunological data will also be carried out, which will be compiled on a platform, which will be available to the entire scientific community and health professionals. These data will allow not only to identify and validate an individual's critical immune pathways, using Artificial Intelligence and clinical translation tools, but more importantly, to design a personalized model to treat each citizen's inflammation. To apply these innovations, a digital multi-criteria medical decision support system will be developed to guide healthcare professionals in the design of personalized strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease.

All these tools, including the portable biosensor, will be tested in real scenarios through two proof-of-concept clinical trials, which will be carried out at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, one of the world's leading medical universities.